Basics and Color
July 19, 2013
Homemade color wheel, approximately 3″ x 3″
I made this color “wheel” a few years ago during a one-on-one lesson with a new student from my Watercolor Workshops. We were going through the primaries and how the other colors were made from them. I found this little scrap of watercolor paper and painted the colors and numbered them. The primaries I numbered with “1”, the secondaries “2”, the tertiaries “3”. This was all new information to my student, an adult, who hadn’t learned it in grade school. She had gone through her whole life until then not knowing something that is an elemental building block of information, not only to making art, but I think to life.
This happens more frequently than I had ever thought. I have been teaching more frequently lately, in the local Jr. College’s community education, to teens at a local library in an after school program, and in my Every Other Saturday Watercolor Workshops. I’m amazed and sad that art is less and less a part of primary and secondary education. So soapbox time!
Kids need to be introduced to art early, so they have the experience of being artistic, creative, think inductively. And because its documented that art especially helps young brains think more creatively. There’s so much information available about this, about how art helps people to think in alternative pathways. Art was a regular part of my primary education, regularly in elementary school, and then I took ceramics for all but one semester of my four years of high school. I ended up a painter, but though I don’t work in clay any longer, there are things I know from those hours of potting that still inform my art.
So now I have my students paint their own color wheels using their own watercolors. Yes, you can buy very functional color wheels in an art store, but there’s nothing like the experience of creating a new color by mixing two others, or layering one transparent color over another one, to make a third color. And it lets them know what colors the paints in their palettes will be able to make. Oh the discoveries they’ll make!
I kept the color wheel I painted, its pinned to the wall next to where I paint. Not because I need it, but to remind me of the basics, and how fun it is to open others’ horizons about color.