“Color and I are one.” Artist Paul Klee made this statement in the early 1900s and it’s every bit as true today as it was a hundred years ago. Color is a critical component of art and crucial for art students to understand. A true study of color lasts an artist’s entire lifetime, but it can begin your classroom. Try a color journal exercise to help your art students begin to see the world of color all around them:
Primary and Secondary Color Study
Challenge your students with a single color study each week. Start with a color from the color wheel and an empty journal. As an ongoing after-class exercise, ask your students to collect as many examples of one color as possible. Assign one color a week, working your way through the color wheel together as a class. For example, if you start with the color red, your art students will be on the lookout for red objects they see in printed materials, fabrics, ephemera, and their day-to-day surroundings. They’ll paste their finds into their color journals, as well as draw their red “finds” if they’re not easily pasted into a journal (such as a barn, a tricycle…you get the idea) to share with you and the class. Ask them to write a narrative about each color, describing where they found a particular color and if they noticed any color trends.
Tertiary Color Study
Take the color study one step further by asking your students to find and document primary, secondary and tertiary colors in their journals. As a bonus exercise, find a unique shade on a paint swatch at your local home improvement store, and ask your students to find the color out in the world. Collect a few paint chips, cut them up so each student has a small piece to paste in their journal, and send them on their way.
Keeping a color journal is a fun way to bring a heightened awareness of color to your art students. How do you teach color theory? Let us know in the comments below.