A New (School) Year

This year is off to an amazing start. We began our new and improved color theory unit this week and it has gone even better than I expected.

We started as we always do, by making color theory posters that explain some element of the color wheel or color terms. Below you can see a group that focused on tint, and another that contrasted achromatic, with high chroma color. This part of the unit includes a lot of vocabulary so I do include a short vocab quiz. This helps motivate students to learn the difference between tint, tone, and shade as well as color groups and schemes. 20170922_12231120170922_122258_001

After the color wheel, and this is new this year, we apply our new knowledge with paint mixing. I started this year with a competition to see who could mix the grayest gray.


They all end up looking a little purple, green or blue, but it’s a wonderful practicle application of the color wheel. I’ll tell them to “cancel out” an excess of one color by using its primary. As you can see I do not allow the use of black during this competition, and I also exclude black from the palette for the rest of the unit.

After this gray mixing competition we move on to value. As you might imagine this is very difficult without black, but it does force students to experiment with color mixing maybe more than they previously would have. It also corrects the impulse to add white to everything. (I’m not sure where that impulse comes from. Maybe because pastels are pretty, who knows!?) We also take out first stab at observational drawing for the year.


After this project we dove into our Single Object Still Life Paintings. Except this year, unlike previous years, we started with a gray background. (made without black of course) In years past I have let student choose their background color based on the colors in their object as well as preference. However, this year, I thought we might try something different and I think the end results were far more sophisticated, and thoughtful paintings. They also really reinforced what we had be learning about color theory.




Overall the project was a success. I will have to see how it plays out the rest of the year. Will my students actually apply what they have learned about color theory?


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