color theory

heather accurso

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theory of color

at the time i was teaching at the illinois institute of art, this was another mandatory course for every student. usually, students had already taken fundamentals of design, but that class was not a prerequisite.

over an eleven week quarter we met twice a week for close to three hours each meeting. a trip to the art institute of chicago was our grand finale, where the world-class painting collection brought color theory concepts to life.

skills taught

  • understand color as a powerful visual element
  • learn to manipulate an audience (create a mood) with appropriate palette choices and to backup these decisions with theory and vocabulary
  • differentiate between additive and subtractive color, create a subtractive color wheel and assorted palettes (primary, secondary, tertiary and complementary colors, triad, tints and shades, high-intensity / low-intensity, neutrals...)
  • utilize color non-objectively and representationally in order to communicate specific project concepts with awarness of it's multitudinous facets:
    • local color
    • symbolic color
    • cultural color
    • personal/intuitive color
    • socio-economic color
    • psychological/physiological color
    • naturalistic color
    • color trends in industry and fashion
  • hone critique and craft skills