Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Staging the Color Wheel

Working With The Color Wheel.

We hear about color wheels and color complements and triads, but how you to apply this to real life? The colors you see printed on the wheel don’t always match what you run into in life or in paint.

My junior drawing class took a stab at relating to the color wheel this week in preparation for the Spring Fine Arts Exhibition, “Color Complements”, being staged at The Renaissance Art Gallery next month.

Today, rather than doing all the preparations myself, I engaged these art students to help work on an installation piece, “Working With The Color Wheel”.

First we needed a color wheel to display in the welcome to the exhibition. Also we needed to highlight primary colors and their complements and show what happens when you mix them.

First came the color wheel. I am sure you remember how boring doing this can be. But this had to be more than a simple wheel, it also had to be art and decorative.

I collected a basket of silk flowers, a grapevine wreath and a pair of wire cutters, put them on the table and away we went.

After an 15 minute explanation of the color wheel, and a simple demonstration via watercolors, the students had to sort through the silk flowers and find the best examples of the colors needed. This is where they found their understanding of the wheel was not as good as they thought! You remember how your eyes crossed in class when color theory was presented, but listening to teacher and working it are two different things. And with the various shades and highlights presented in the flowers they had to think about it!

After the sort, the flowers were cut, inserted and the wheel hung.

Next we needed the color complement display. Glass marbles served as the color constant, placed in clear votives, they shine through. Next, the best complement was selected from the remaining flowers and stood up in the votive, the votives were arranged in the window, where light can shine through them.

Food Coloring and clear glass bottles make up the last presentation, working with color. Batches of water were mixed up with the 3 primary colors, and 3 bottles were filled with these. Then the remaining colors were used to mix the complements, and the last 3 bottles were filled with these. Then the bottles were arranged on the windowsill where the light will shine through them. A little fiddling and re-arranging for the most pleasing presentation was made.

This installation piece both brightens the gallery and is already proving to be a handy learning tool. The adult photography class, which follows the junior class got a first hand look at color and how light effects it.

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