Color Relationships 2, Fall 2016 week 7

The seventh session of the Color Relationships 2 class for Fall 2016 was held on Wednesday, October 12. We critiqued the homework (Translucency), and introduced the last homework assignment, Freedom! Dick discussed the importance of going from dependence to independence, and the 6 phases of creative problem solving that will help you on your journey as a mature artist.

Homework assignment

The homework assignment is Freedom!, which means that the criteria for this one are up to YOU!

Incorporate one or more visual phenomena into a composition of your own design. Submit as many individual compositions as you choose, providing your criteria for each. Refer to the Fence Posts graphic, below.

The visual phenomena covered in this course are provided in the Fence Posts graphic, and include

  • Films
  • Veils
  • Volume color
  • White light
  • Colored light
  • Translucency
  • Halation
  • Vanishing boundaries

Write down the criteria you decided on, to guide your development and evaluation phases. What boundaries did you set, in terms of

  1. Theme
  2. Subject matter
  3. Interpretation
  4. Materials & techniques
  5. Forming process
  6. Formal qualities
  7. Visual phenomena
  8. Presentation

Download (PDF)

Class recap – some key ideas

Critique – Appearance of Translucency

There were many different takes on this challenging assignment. Most of the homework shared the same problem: an inconsistency between the bright spots and the shadow areas. The relationship between the light and shadow should stay consistent throughout the piece, so if one area shows evidence of a dim light source, then the shadows should be muted as well. Said another way: if you have deep, dark shadows, then the highlights should be very bright in response. You simply cannot have a vivid light with wimpy shadows, or strongly pronounced shadows with soft lighting – it doesn’t make visual sense.

Dick also mentioned noticing where the highlights are placed on objects. The placement of highlights tells the viewer both the shape of the object and the direction of the light source. Even if your colors and values are correct for the type and amount of lighting, the wrong distribution of highlights will confuse the viewer.

Strong chroma in the area through which light is transmitted is one of the most striking aspects of the phenomenon of translucency. Other areas appear duller, more neutral, setting off the translucent area’s saturation by contrast.

View all studies submitted online

Dick closed the discussion of translucency by showing a work by former student Jean Hardie, and telling about a building which is one of his favorite pieces of architecture because of its translucent walls. He used the words sophisticated and delicate to describe Jean’s piece, an intriguing image which uses reverse gradation to great effect. The marble walls of Yale’s Beinecke Rare Book Library allow filtered light to pass through, bathing the interior in a pale yellowish light, and causing it to glow when the exterior is viewed at night.

Recreate a Masterpiece discussion

Dick asked Susan what she had acquired from doing this assignment. She said she really got to know the painting, and noticed a lot of details she hadn’t seen before, when she saw it in a museum. Someone suggested that the Friends of the Library is a good source for magazines for collage, and Dick’s tip was to turn the magazine upside down when you’re using it, so you don’t get distracted and read the articles!

Demo – correcting a colored light homework assignment

Dick thought it would be helpful to review colored light by showing how to complete one of the homework assignments submitted last week.

Final assignment, creative problem solving, and boundaries

The final assignment for this class is Freedom! Dick has mentioned several times that his main goal as a teacher is to take his students from dependence to independence, and there are several factors involved in getting there.

An important aspect of independent thought is recognizing the 6 phases of creative problem solving. These are: 1) Point of entry, 2) Expansion, 3) Convergence, 4) Development, 5) Evaluation, and 6) Exploitation. Observing these 6 stages is extremely helpful for any artist involved in their process, and two of the most essential phases for growth are Evaluation and Exploitation. Once you have completed a project, take some time to critique your work and view it objectively, recognizing what works and what does not. When you know what was successful in your piece, exploit what you learned by going back to either re-work or redo the artwork. In this way, your artistic vocabulary will continue to expand.

Another factor in reaching independence is the acknowledgment of boundaries. At the start of this course, Dick was in charge of setting up the boundaries (the criteria) for the assignments. Over the weeks he has gradually been removing some of his requirements, and now it is up to the students to create their own boundaries. Dick likens it to raising a child: taking a baby from total dependency on their parents, to being a young adult who has learned to make their own decisions, and also to accept the consequences of those decisions. Part of this week’s assignment is to be aware of the boundaries inherent in any piece of work, including those set by the technical elements (subject matter, materials, forming process, etc.). These decisions are what become our “fence posts”, that which defines and dictates our goal.

We also had the good fortune to have a guest visitor in class, Kari McCarthy, who has taken many of Dick’s courses in the past. She happened to be part of a group who decided to create their own assignments during the class, and every week it was one student’s role to assign the homework. She shared with us her assignment, Natural Light, which had the criteria: “Create a composition (using the medium of your choice) of a still life or landscape as seen at different times of day.” While the technical boundaries were still left up the individuals to decide, Kari clearly defined the goals of the assignment in her description and rationale. This type of exercise, learning how to create your own assignments and identify artistic goals, will be an invaluable asset in your growth as an artist.


As a visual recap, Dick showed the movie from his Dimensions of Color lessons DVD. Many of the segments can be found on his Vimeo page.