What a thrill it was for me to whip out my color study portfolio from RISD to help my son with his homework! I mentioned Josef and Anni Albers and even got an eyebrow raise….how did you know that? It’s a rarity these days to gain this sort of acknowledged respect from my teen son, so I am feeling really really good about this small vote of confidence.
More significantly, as I looked through my collection of hand painted gouache studies, I realized how valuable this color foundation training continues to be for me. I took a color class in the Graphic Design Department at RISD in 1993, and it was so hard, very tedious. Even mixing the gouache to the right consistency to achieve the perfect opacity was a challenge, and that was after getting the accurate hue! I don’t think I could paint with such straight precision anymore, but at the time I was so good with my hands. I remember this class being a bit of a relief for me, a nice change of pace for me to work with this medium using a paintbrush rather than being hunched over a loom, threading the heddles with extra twisty yarn.
My apartment mate was in Graphic Design and encouraged me to take this class. We sat over coffee numerous times, just perusing through the Josef Albers book discussing how mind boggling color is. As Albers famously said, and proved, color “is almost never seen as it really is” and that “color deceives continually”. He suggested that color is best studied via experience, underpinned by experimentation and observation. It was good to be reminded of this, and of the focus I had while taking this class. I don’t get to work much in color these days, but the same focus, experimentation and observation is ever present in my life.
Isaac learned the importance of painting his same colored chips on card stock evenly in order to make his color lesson a success. He didn’t love that I insisted he re-paint his to be more opaque and consistent. He was blown away to see that one color can look like two when placed on top of the two complementary colors. Pretty cool! A very satisfying mother moment indeed. Thank you RISD!