Courses Perceptual Studies page 6


Students can reduce their composition to half-size and do a color investigation on tracing paper with color markers or pencils. Color shapes cannot have a black line defining edges. It is necessary to see color edge against the black or white.

Substitute color for one white or black shape. Particular attention is given to value as this is the most important consideration and students should investigate value relationships. The choice of color is almost immaterial. The important thing is whether the color boundary is soft or hard.


Typical Criticisms
) I don’t think it makes any difference what hue is selected as it is value that makes the difference. Using the same composition and shape, do one color as a light value, middle value and another with a dark value. See what happens and then decide what you want to happen.
) The amount of color to the amount of black is about equal. One cancels out the other. Remember in the color class the problem dealing with how much to how much?
) Even though these are sketches, you are really sloppy. Take more pride in your work and do them carefully.
) I don’t think you have explored enough options yet. Do some more.


On a 16-inch board, students visually center a 10-inch square drawn in pencil. They put in the lines 1 to 4, evenly spaced. Tracing paper flap when completed. The lines can be done in pencil or with a fine pen. I usually required them done in pen. This is another tool and medium for the students to master. The 10-inch square is always done in pencil.

On a 16-inch board, students visually center a 10-inch square drawn in pencil. Using plaka, they paint the black, white and color composition. I am as demanding of line quality with a brush as with pencil. The plaka color shape must be well done without streaks, build-up or unevenness in the color. Tracing paper flap when completed. The 10-inch square is always done in pencil.


Color Interpretation of Composition
As students have been doing the four exercises from Alber’s color course: color boundary, visual mixture, color interaction and how much to how much, a color interpretation of the composition has been added to the repertory of exercises. Using one of the Alber’s color principles, students work out a scheme where color is used in all five areas. There are no lines, only edges. Exploration is done on tracing paper at half scale using colored pencils or pastels. When one or two compositions are selected, they are translated as vertical stripes representative of areas or amounts using color-aid papers (about 3 x 3 inches.)When the final selection is made, it is put onto a 15 x 15 inch board and painted with gouache.

After doing this exercise once, it was found that the boundary principle had the greatest significance. The boundary could be used to accentuate either a shape or a line, or it could be used to diminish a weak shape or line. It could also be used to establish spatial relationships. The more successful projects used a vivid color for the minor shape and then some variation of the analogous colors on either side of the key color. For example, an intense red might have purples into blues on one side and oranges into browns or yellows on the other side. Students experienced great difficulty laying paint into even, flat surfaces.

By the end of the semester, each student should have four 15-inch boards. One is the lines in sequence with ink or pencil, one is the line composition in ink, one is the shape composition is black and white with plaka, or color substituted for one black or white shape, and a five color composition done in gouche/plaka/acrylic.

Students prepare a progress book with a sheet of white bond between sheets of tracing paper. The book will have a cover with student’s name, class number and date. Students can design the cover and the book is spiral bound.


Second Semester
A few students will still be completing the color board from the first semester but the majority of students will begin working with shapes. The supplementary course for the second semester is based on visual principles. Students will still be working with cut paper as it is most conducive to the exploration that leads to learning. Also, it prepares students for a compositional project near the end of the semester.


Shapes and Compositions
This past year I changed the presentation of the first exercises by lumping them as one rather than assigning them individually. The innovation was particularly well received by students. Students were directed to design a non-biased abstract shape that appeared as a flat plane with an elegant contour. They were to do another non-biased shape where the contour described dimensional form. They were to design a leaf that represented an application of the flat theoretical shape. They were to design a folded paper construction that when filled in, it retained an illusion of dimension, and/or they could design a fruit or vegetable where the contour suggested form. All of these options were presented at one time and students could select the subject and sequence. Some students did all five exercises, some did three or four but everyone had to do two; one flat and one dimensional. I would recommend that the exercises be assigned as just described, but the following has been retained as a record of what went before.





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•)Student example
•)Step 4
•)Shape composition
•)Color replaces one black or white shape

•)Shape Composition With One Color
•)(more examples)


•)Student example
•)Step 5
•)Shape composition

•)Shape Composition Full Color
•)(more examples)




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