Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The reasons for this blog...the big picture of color theory.

We've been asked to clarify some facts about the color theory class and our reasons for teaching it.
When we took color theory class from other teachers we were left with many unanswered questions which unfortunately weren't really addressed despite our repeated attempts. This and the sheer number of students who had taken the class for the fourth or fifth time, made us question the sanity of that teaching method.
A lot of the problem with color theory as it is currently taught is that it revolves around old, outdated theories. Sometimes teachers will tell you their color theory is correct because they paint well. Unfortunately, just because they paint well does not mean they can answer your questions satisfactorily. Many design decisions have been made in a good painting (which requires the knowledge of color upon which decisions are made on a case by case basis) and this is color design. Color design is, however, only one part of color theory but for some reason the most talked about. This has to change. Artists have to be empowered, not with a system of design but with a knowledge base of concepts upon which they use to design. Basic color theory is more important than design because color design is BASED on basic color theory.

The questions we had a few years ago are the same kinds of questions students are having today and it's disappointing to see this unnecessary struggle continue:
- do I really need all those expensive colors on my palette?
-can I substitute that color with this one? do I really need that specific paint?
- what's the deal with phthalo colors?
- if digital painting works on the additive system of light, why am I using an RYB color wheel based on subtractive mixing of paint when I paint in Photoshop? (it's illogical)
- Why do some painters use so many paints and others so relatively few?
-Why is a Zorn palette so good for fleshtones?
-What is Munsell? What is the best way to understand color?
-On what basis do I select paints?
-Where does the color wheel come from? Do I need it? How come some are different?

and so much more...

It is our goal to communicate the big concepts about color in such a way that you will be empowered not dependent. You will understand the bigger picture and be able to apply these concepts to all types of art. It's not a technique, it's not outdated information, it's solid (scientific, if you will) information about how we see color, how we use it etc.. and it provides a perfect foundation for further learning regardless of the type of art you wish to do or other teachers you have. And you won't have to attend a class 4 times either...


  1. Wow-these are some of the questions I've been grappling with for a while!

  2. Hey Adriana, it's been a while since I've posted but if you have any questions just let me know!