Color Teaser @ Sweet Tree Arts June 28

I've added a new Workshops page to my website to accommodate my increasingly busy teaching schedule. August is going to be packed with opportunities to develop an eye for color up and down the coast of Maine -- and I can't wait. 

• Thursday August 6, 9-12pm at The Good Supply

• Sunday August 9th, 10-1pm at The Good Supply

• Monday-Thursday August 17-20th, 4-6pm at Sweet Tree Arts

• Late August TBD at Courthouse Gallery Fine Art

• September TBD on Monhegan

I love teaching this class and can easily tailor the teaser or multi-day workshop for school groups, arts organizations, conferences, retreats, or private classes. Email me and we'll talk possibilities.


Need your color fix before August? Sign up for the two-hour teaser class at Sweet Tree Arts from 1-3pm on June 28th.

For just $20 cover all the basics and walk away with a sketchbook full of studies and discoveries.

Bring the sketchbook of your choice and all other materials will be provided. Register by clicking the logo below and get $20 off the four-day Sweet Tree workshop August 17-20th!

*Love what Sweet Tree stands for and provides? I do too. Check out their scholarship campaign on Indiegogo and consider making a donation at any level. Become a root and receive one of my small paintings as a thank you!

Color Studies and Hack-schooling

I just finished up another great run of "Developing An Eye For Color" classes with 7th graders at the Camden Rockport Middle School. I had an awesome group of 11 students and wanted to share some of their work with you. 

• The first two photos show one student's illusion of "two become one," where differently colored foreground squares are strategically placed on backgrounds so they appear to be the same; when the flap is lifted and you see the foreground colors side-by-side their difference is revealed.

• Next, two examples of woven compositions that display the extremes of vibrating edges and vanishing edges between colors. Can you see all four colors in each design?

• Everyone in class learned how to create the illusion of color mixture. Opaque paper can be made to appear transparent when color strips are chosen carefully!

• To cap off our class students were challenged to use what they learned about optical mixture, color edges, and context by picking a favorite painting and reproducing it using color paper collage only -- a paint-with-paper challenge! Van Gogh was the most popular artist to study.

In my email to the class last week I shared some thoughts and links that I I want to post here as well. I'm very passionate about offering my workshop in the public school system when I can because it offers an opportunity for "hack-schooling," or learning that goes beyond rubrics, homework, and standardized testing. It is my great hope that "Developing An Eye For Color" exists to serve the creative health, happiness, and curiosity of these seventh graders -- indeed, of every participant in any class i lead, no matter their age. As an adult, I myself realize how much I need such creative service and and challenge.

The email to my students:

Hey crew,

First up, take a look at this awesome image emailed to me by our wonderful Robyn. Do you see what the color spots are made out of???! So cool.

Okay, next, take a look at how an artist combines his painting with his love of getting out on water via surf and paddle board. Guess what? He didn’t learn how to draw people until he was 21 — and now look at what he can do! Learning can happen fast if you’re psyched and interested:

Speaking of learning, there are so many ways to do it; it doesn’t happen in the same way for all people. In this 10 minute talk a 13 year old shares his story of hack-schooling. Sure, you might not have the choice to be homeschooled and design your own ideal learning opportunities — I didn’t either and I turned out just fine, so that’s not the point. The point is that there are ways to hack the schooling that you are getting right now at the Camden Rockport Middle School in order to increase your enjoyment and enthusiasm. No really, I swear there are! Start imagining how you can stay happy and healthy as you go through school; brainstorm with your family or with your friends how to do things just a little differently. Ever think about getting an internship at a cutting edge ski factory like this kid did? What about setting up a mentorship with a local artist or musician so you can go to their studio and see how they work? (You can get credits for this in high school!) Or how about starting a Friday Fiesta night where you go to a friend’s house and cook a Mexican meal with their family, and for a whole hour you speak nothing but Spanish? I mean, who really thinks you’ll learn anything from your Spanish class if you don’t actually use what you learn outside class? Anyway, here’s the talk — it’s been viewed by over 8 million people:

Ken Robinson is a pretty cool guy who’s said things like, “Creativity is as important as literacy,” and, "If you’re afraid to be wrong, you’ll never be creative.” He gave a TED talk like the kid in the link above. His talk has been viewed by 33 million people! Here’s a shorter version that’s illustrated in a really amazing way. Have you ever seen anything like it? Some people learn better when information is presented visually like this. Ken Robinson understands that not everyone learns the same. He says don’t forget that you’re not just a brain, but that you’re a body that learns through your ears and your eyes and your hands — and if you participate in a Friday Fiesta, your mouth and tastebuds!

School can be a real drag if you don’t shoulder some of the responsibility to figure out how to make it work for you. Yeah, I know you’re only in middle school…but you made the choice to take my class on your own, didn’t you? That’s taking responsibility. Do more of it! Whether you loved our class or not, just by taking it you had the opportunity to find out -- and you can use what you found out about how you learn or how you don't as tools for your future education hacking. 

— Did you like adding extra art to your schedule? 

— Did you enjoy learning through experiment, like the trial and error challenges we did? Or would you rather learn in a more technical way, like through step by step instructions on how to draw a face? 

— Did you like precision creativity with rulers and exacto knives or would you rather get totally messy with paint? Or both?! You can have both, you know. 

— Did you like studying a subject with infinite possibilities, or would you rather study a subject where you search for a single solution? 

— Did you like the times we talked about our color experiments as a group, or did you enjoy working on your own more? Everyone has a different group-time to individual-time balance. 

Start to figure out what you enjoy and how you like to learn. You won’t always be able to have it your way, but you will be able to keep yourself more happy, more healthy, and more creative if you know how you learn best. Remember when I told you in our last class that you were more genuinely creative than most adults I work with. It’s true! 

Finally, if you want to know what I think about you, what I hope for you, why I think it’s important that you learn to take responsibility for your own education, and what I think you really need to hear, read this. I bet most your teachers would agree they feel the same.

I miss seeing you guys already,



A Final Challenge At The Farnsworth

The color theory class I taught at the Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland wrapped up a couple weeks ago. As a final challenge participants had to select a painting and reproduce it in all its painterly-ness using only Color Aid paper. During our seven weeks together we accumulated experience observing and articulating the color effects of simultaneous contrast, quantity, vibration, and transparency -- and then this experience was put to the test. Reproducing paint with paper is a meticulous process and demands a discerning eye to precisely identify spots of color and their relationships. Here are some shots of the reproduction process:

Fifteen years ago I completed my first course in color theory with the same challenge. I chose David Park's Four Men and spent a good twelve hours on my final piece -- despite editing my composition down and only including three men. Holy carpel tunnel from cutting tiny pieces of paper with an Xacto knife!

The Illusion Of Transparency

I've been teaching a 7-week color theory class at the Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland. We recently experimented with creating the illusion of transparency (or optical mixture) by making studies of folding ribbons and overlapping shapes out of color aide paper. Have we successfully fooled you into thinking the opaque paper we work with is transparent?