Two Day Training Session on Colour Theory for Ceramic Workers

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Two Day Training Session on Colour Theory for Ceramic Workers
This training was provided by Sam Gordon, a qualified Craft Design Technology teacher and experienced trainer. Rosa Matilde Narváez, a qualified Nicaraguan teacher and experienced trainer advised on course materials and undertook an evaluation.

The trainers have been mindful of the 2004 Nicaraguan Law of Citizen Participation. In keeping with good training practice and taking a lead from the spirit of this legislation participants in the training have had input in the design, delivery and evaluation of the two day session.

This synopsis of the training is presented here in three parts.

  • Part 1 A brief description of the session content

  • Part 2 A list of exercises undertaken by the participants

  • Part 3 A reference to materials provided for the participants

Description of Session Content

A preliminary visit to the ceramics workshop at Esteli established prior contact with those workers who participated in the subsequent training session. A core content for the session had already been prepared in part. This was slightly adjusted and added to in the light of contributions from the ceramic workers.

The early morning part of the first day was given over to introductions and explanation of course contents. Work started using a flip chart diagram of the human eye – with a brown pupil. Internet examples invariably show a blue eyed example. This opened the way to talking about light source, light absorbing and refracting materials, image transfer via the eye’s lens, retina, optic nerve and eventual processing by the human brain.

Following this Exercise 1 was used to demonstrate that what the eye saw and the brain apparently registered are not always the same thing. An explanation of the body’s need for chemical balance was offered as the prevailing scientific view of the day on this phenomenon. It was mentioned that pre Columbus Maya religious belief called for acceptance that the universe must also be maintained in balance.

Having suggested that there was a role for science in the development of colour theory there was a very brief look at the contributions made by three prominent figures in this field. These were; Sir Isaac Newton – 17th centaury England, J W van Goethe -19th Germany, and Swiss born J Itten at the Bauhaus School in 20th centaury Germany. Their respective contributions may be viewed as; colour is dependant on, external circumstances, internal and personal interpretations, and colour can be managed in a reasoned way.

This led to Exercise 2, using a colour wheel. During the session brushes and acrylic paint and paper were provided by the trainers. The participants completed painting their own colour wheels to match a given model. After this the way ahead first took in a short lecture on the meaning and use of colour contrasts. A printed handout was provided describing seven types of contrast. Following this the participants went into the school grounds for 15 to 20 minutes and reported back on different contrasts they had noted. They then carried out Exercise 3, mixing colours of equal brilliance to match a model, using only the three primary colours (red, yellow, blue.)

. . . / . . .

. . . . / . . .

Having established how the three primary colours can be mixed to produce twelve secondary and tertiary colours a short lecture raised the subject of tints and shades, by the addition of white and black. This led to Exercise 4, grading tints and shades to match a given scale. This was followed by Exercise 5, mixing and matching tint and shades of equal intensity. Printed material supporting this practical work was distributed to each participant.

This completed day 1.

Day 2 started with a brief review of the first day. Participants had stated that they produced neutral colours, predominantly greys, by mixing black and white. A demonstration was given on how to paint greys using other colour mixtures. There was also a brief explanation and presentation of perspective principles which arose from observation of previous work. Participants were given acetate overlays to use with yesterday’s colour wheel. These could be used to suggest agreeable colour schemes. The point was made that in art, breaking rules was considered a good general rule.

Participants were then given a three page paper entitled Three Considerations to Look at in Art and Design. Its purpose was to equip each ceramic worker with a generally accepted knowledge of basic art and design concepts and a vocabulary to express these ideas. A third objective was to equip each with a mechanism that would enable them to make constructive criticism and promote communication among themselves and the wider public, including product consumers.

While the participants read this, 25 computer print out of paintings representing work by major artists from the European Baroque era, Impressionist and Abstract art movements were displayed on the walls. Latin American artists were represented by Frida Kohl, Diego Rivera, Joaquin Garcia Torres and an unnamed Nicaraguan artist. There were two examples of 19th century Japanese art. To most of the ceramic workers this was the first time they had been exposed to this type of art.

While the participants ‘visited the art gallery’ they were encouraged to express their views using the language and terminology provided as part of the course. They did express preferences and said what they liked about particular pieces. A very brief insight into the life and times of the artists was offered as part of the tour. For example, it was mentioned that at the age of fifteen, the French Impressionist, Renoir, started work as a plate painter in a ceramics factory.

After the visit the participants were asked to identify a particular colour contrast, but there was no obligation to make this known to anyone else. For the remainder of the morning and afternoon the participants and trainer worked together, painting ceramic products. This was Exercise 6.

During the late morning Rosa Matilde undertook and recorded a participative evaluation of the two days training, without the other trainer being present. In very general terms the participants expressed satisfaction with the session but said it would be better over a longer time scale. At times there was some difficulty with the trainer’s pronunciation of some Spanish words. However this was compensated by a variety of ways of explaining and demonstrating issues. They asked for more training.


Exercises Undertaken by Participants
Exercise 1 Participants were given two sheets of paper, one with a painted square of a primary colour. The other page was blank white paper. After focusing on the primary colour for a minute, gaze was switched to the blank page. An after image of another colour appeared – eventually!
Exercise 2 This is a standard device used to identify contrasting colours.
Exercise 3 A grid of 25 squares with one square painted red, rather like cross word puzzle. The idea is to cover the remaining squares with different colours of equal brilliance.
Exercise 4 A strip of paper containing 13 rectangles graded from intense black to almost white. Using a primary colour and white or black the participants practiced gradual tonal changes on the other strip of blank rectangles.
Exercise 5 Using a grid similar to Exercise 4 the participants first mixed a secondary or tertiary colour then produced tints and shades from the original.
Exercise 6 Following a suggestion made by a ceramic worker during the initial visit this exercise used plates, pots and plaques which they had made themselves.
Information sheets given to course participants

  • A computer print out of colours produced by passing a light through a prism. (Newton)

  • Types of colour contrast (complementary, light/dark, hue, hot/cold, extension, saturation, simultaneous) Each contrast had a brief explanatory note and example.

  • A descriptive list of art terminology, covering the meanings of a/mono/ chromatic, hue, saturation, refraction, etc.

  • Three Considerations of Art and Design

    1. Elements of Visual Design – line, form, space, etc

    2. Principals of Design– equilibrium, rhythm, harmony, etc

    3. Critique– feeling, description, interpretation, evaluation, etc

  • A4 size computer print outs of 25 paintings

Ejercicios Emprendidos por Participantes
Ejercicio 1 Se le distribuyo a los participantes dos hojas de papel, uno con un cuadrado pintado de  un color primario. La otra página era papel blanco en color blanco. Después de enfocar en el color primario por un minuto, la mirada fue cambiada a la página en blanco. Después apareció la imagen de otro color- ¡eventualmente!
Ejercicio  2 Esto es un dispositivo estándar usado para identificar colores de contrastes.
Ejercicio  3  Una rejilla de 25 cuadrados con un cuadrado pintado rojo, algo como rompecabezas. La idea es cubrir los cuadrados restantes con diversos colores de la brillantez igual.
Ejercicio  4  Una tira del papel que contiene 13 rectángulos calificada de negro intenso a casi blanco. Con un color primario y blanco o negro participantes practicaron cambios graduales de tonos en otra tira de rectángulos en blanco.
Ejercicio  5 Usando una rejilla similar al Ejercicio 4 los participantes primero mezclaron un color secundario o terciario, entonces produjeran tintes y sombras de la original.
Ejercicio  6 Siguiendo una sugerencia hecha por un trabajador de cerámica durante la visita inicial, en este ejercicio utilizó las platos, los potes y las placas que habían hecho ellos mismos.
Hojas de la información dadas a los participantes del curso

  • Una impresión de la computadora de colores producida por el paso de una luz a través de un prisma. (Newton)

  • Tipos de contraste del color (complementario, luz/ oscuro, matiz, caliente/frío, extensión, saturación, simultáneos) cada uno el contraste tenía una nota breve explicativa y ejemplos.

  • Una lista descriptiva de la terminología del arte, cubriendo los significados de a/mono/cromático, tonalidad, saturación, refracción, etc.

  • Tres Consideraciones del Arte y del Diseño

    1. Elementos del diseño visual - línea, forma, espacio, etc

    2. Principios del Diseño - del equilibrio, del ritmo, de la armonía, etc

    3. La Crítica – Sensación, descripción, interpretación, evaluación, etc

  • Impresiones de 25 pinturas del tamaño A4

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