Use Color Fearlessly: A Color Theory Workshop—August 9-12, 2012

February 1, 2012

See the complete post for details.


Above: Variety of paintings demonstrating my approach to color in my own paintings. If you've been reading the blog you're used to this by now.

The Midwest Art and Lettering Retreat is a four day event held at Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota. This year they have asked me to teach a color theory workshop.

While the retreat is put on by the Colleagues of Calligraphy and three of the five workshops are calligraphy based (one is a book arts workshop), you do not have to be a member of the Colleagues or even a calligrapher to attend.

My class, Use Color Fearlessly, will explore color theory concepts through the use of watercolor blending and mixing. This type of approach will have immediate benefit to calligraphers wishing to enhance their use of color in their calligraphic work, but it is also applicable to artists working in all media. The exercises can be performed by artists at any skill level. We are concerned about blending and learning concepts.  

Students will build a looseleaf workbook of their own exercises and explorations that will serve as an on-going reference for their color theory work. They will leave class with strategies for continuing their color journey regardless of whether they work with letterforms, or create figurative or abstract paintings. The emphasis of the workshop is to lay a foundation of understanding upon which the student can build a personal palette of colors. 

Class will be a mixture of lecture and demonstration from me, and a lot of blending, mixing, and thinking on your part. Color is an integral part of any artist's work. With color we create emotion, set tone, and define our focus. Don't let your worries about color choices tie your artistic hands up in knots. We'll move forward fast, furiously, and fearlessly.

The workshop will be an intense and fun time. Each day there will be a morning and afternoon session of 3 hours each. A complete brochure and schedule for the workshop can been seen here. You will also see the other great class offerings in that brochure. (Sadly you can only take one workshop for the entire 4-day period.)

The workshop cost is $595: for three nights in a single room, meals Thursday lunch through Sunday lunch, and tuition. (The organizers have also provided a small optional charge for Wednesday and/or  Sunday night lodging should you wish to arrive early to settle in, and also leave on Monday morning. This is explained in the brochure. I recommend that you plan to arrive on Wednesday so that you're up and ready to jump into color on Thursday morning.)

Registration began on January 21. To register, please follow the brochure link and send the completed the registration page to the Colleagues of Calligraphy (all information is in the brochure).

A list of supplies will be sent to registered students. Supplies include a few specific watercolors, paper, brushes, and a three ring binder. Students may elect to work in gouache instead of watercolor and will have a slightly different supplies. Colored inks are not be recommended for the main exercises, but students who already have colored inks are encouraged to bring them for additional experimentation. 

I haven't been to Carleton College before, but I am told that the facilities are delightful (with air conditioning), the residence hall bedrooms pleasant (with air conditioning), and the food tasty. I'm looking forward to it. I hope that you'll consider joining me for an exploration of color theory in Minnesota in the summertime!

    • Luci S.
    • February 1, 2012

    I wish I lived in Minnesota so I could go to this!

    I’ve followed this blog for quite some time, and I just wanted to say thank you so much for all the thoughts and resources you provide. I’ve really been wanting to work on my color theory skills, and checked out the Quiller books you recommend. I got a PPBP since seeing your sketches with it, and it’s been so fun to experiment with – I also splurged on some nice M. Graham watercolor that I am really loving!

    In the few days since my watercolor tubes have arrived, I feel like I’ve already learned so much about what to mix to get the colors I want and what colors work well together. Sometimes I even find myself looking at something, like the sky or a car, thinking about what I could mix to get those color.

  1. Reply

    Luci, I’m sorry I’m not the easiest destination! But I am really glad to hear that you have checked out Quiller’s books and have a PPBP and are using your M. Graham watercolors (thinking about how to mix something is exactly what we all need to do). So I am very happy to hear all this. Thank you for taking the time to write to me.

    You might also check out Jeanne Dobie’s book Making Watercolor Sing, which, if you’re working mostly in watercolor, will provide additional great exercises and information for you on how to get the colors you need to get and to interject color harmony and so on!

  2. Reply

    Would love to take this but MN is out of my reach at this phase of my life (two kids, busy schedules, etc). If you ever decide to teach this online I’d love to take it. I wrote a book on color for quilters that won a Ben Franklin award for Best Craft Book of 2010, so I love all things color.

  3. Reply

    Maria, while I don’t believe in saying “never” I think it’s unlikely I’ll teach this class online any time soon. The way I teach color theory it is important for me to see what the students are doing so that I can comment on what’s going on. And I think the feedback keeps them moving through the mounds of homework.

    I’ve tried teaching it via the mail with students sending homework to me on two different occasions and both times it was a burden of mail both ways. And way more time involvement from me than I could ever charge for. Currently it isn’t a class I’m looking at translating into an e-class way because of need for scanning homework and the inherent problems with looking at scans instead of originals because of people working on non-calibrated systems. Maybe someday, but not in the next year or so. I really also prefer to teach hands on.

    Congratulations on your book and your award. That’s fantastic! I’m glad you’ve found a way to spread color theory info!

  4. Reply

    Wow, Roz, those paintings are absolutely gorgeous! The colors are juicy and subtle at the same time… that’s very hard to do! Good luck with your class… it sounds like everyone’s going to have a wonderful time.

  5. Reply

    Thanks Laura, I hope everyone has fun. We’ll all be working hard and I hope they can pick up on my love of color theory.

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