The Materials of Color: Applying Color Theory to the Paint You are Using

Class Level: Appropriate for all experience levels.

The purpose of this workshop is to give an approach to color theory that differs from how it is usually presented in art schools. Instead of focusing on color relationships based on calibrated color sets, such as Color-Aid, we set those color relationships in the context of the actual materials of paint - the specific characteristics of pigments and mediums.

Working mainly with Pigment Sticks, we will examine how the characteristics of pigments - their opacity, temperature, saturation, and value - play crucial roles in color mixing and color composition. We also look at how different mediums, the absorbing properties of grounds, and how the diffusing nature of texture can either radically or subtly affect how a color interacts with light.

The conversation will bring us to the "mechanics" of color. The physical and chemical activities that underlie those characteristics of pigments and mediums and grounds. As if taking a peek backstage, we will see:  

  • What makes a pigment translucent or opaque, brighter or deeper, muted or vivid
  • What makes light influence a pigment's color
  • Why we see color the way we see it


By concentrating on the physical nature of color, color theory becomes less abstract and more grounded in the materials of paint and surface.

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