Color and Design is an art course centered around the four elements of color (hue, value, saturation, and temperature) and the four elements of design (conceptual, visual, relational, and practical).
I’ve always loved making art, but I’m not an art major. Before I took Color and Design, I had never considered the technical elements involved in color and paint. Throughout this class, I learned precision in shape and color while also having a creative outlet from my other classes.
At the beginning of the class, we focused on form. We created paintings of simple forms using black and white paint. Afterward, we learned how to create gradients (a light color blending into a dark color or vice versa) using the same black and white. I appreciate that we started with black and white before moving on to color; it helped me gain control when gradually mixing paint.
For each project, we also had to cut and sand our own frames. Never having used any sort of large, scary saw before, this was a new experience. Once once I tried it, I found it wasn’t really that bad. (And I was pretty worried about it. Like, I brought friends for emotional support!) It’s satisfying to finish a painting and know you designed all of it, down to the paper you sized and the frame you cut.
In this class, I learned to mix my own colors. Using a color wheel, we learned to make every color out of the primary colors: red, yellow, and blue. Matching the shades of paint to the shades on the color wheel was challenging, but a lot of fun. After we learned to match, we used our gradient skills to make scales with whatever colors we wanted.
The hardest project for many of us was a portrait of someone who inspired us. Instead of painting, we used paper squares. I chose to do Helen Keller, a woman who overcame obstacle after obstacle to achieve her dreams. Using pictures, news articles, and anything else I could find that was related to her, I cut squares and used them to recreate the image of her face on illustration board. This took a lot of time and some help from a couple of empathetic friends, but again it was satisfying to finish and see what I made. A few weeks after I turned this project in, I learned that a faculty member liked it enough to request that it be hung in her office.
As the end of the semester draws near, we approach our final project. We can make anything we want, as long as it incorporates at least two things we learned this semester. I love the freedom I have for this, as well as the chance I have to show what I’ve learned. My goal is to make something that I’ll be proud of and will want to keep for a long time.
If you’re thinking of taking Color and Design, know that it’s a time-consuming class. But also know that you’ll learn a lot, and your art will be better as a result of the work you put into it.
Learn more about the liberal arts education at Lycoming College by checking out our academic programs! Or, read about what it's like to run an art exhibition here.