It is beautifully simple, painting —all we have to do is to get the color notes in their proper relation. -Charles Hawthorne

Because color is not static and can not be understood in isolation, gaining real-time color experience is key to developing an eye for color. Through a trial and error approach we learn to first observe and then articulate the color we see when challenged with a series of surprising problems and illusions.

2019 workshops:

• Tuesday May 28, 9am-4pm, at The Page Gallery

Are you interested in hosting a Developing An Eye For Color teaser or workshop? Jessica is comfortable leading classes at schools, art organizations, conferences, private events, you name it, and will tailor her offering to fit your group's needs. Hosts attend for free! Email with questions about content, rates, scheduling, and travel to your area.

Jessica teaches regularly through the Farnsworth Museum, Sweet Tree Arts, and the Camden Rockport Middle School Horizons Art Program. At The Cooper Union School of Art she studied color theory with Irwin Rubin, a student of Josef Albers, and he enthusiastically encouraged her to pursue teaching color theory.

Detailed Class Description:

Although we do not use paint in this class, no study could be more relevant to the painter — or designer, photographer, quilter, student — than our study of the interaction of color. Because color is not static and can not be understood in isolation, a technical approach based on the color wheel and mixing rules does not serve us. Instead, our approach is experiential. Through trial and error we accumulate experience observing and articulating the color we see when challenged with a series of problems and illusions. Can you make one color appear as two? Or two as one? Can you make color recede, advance, vibrate, or melt just by playing with proportion and juxtaposition? Can you make an opaque color appear transparent? In the six- to ten-hour workshops we develop a series of fully notated color sketches as possible answers to these questions. We then develop our sketches into final works suitable for framing. Workshop participants receive handouts, emailed resources, and a bibliography for further exploration. We cover core concepts behind color relatedness and each participant leaves with a more finely tuned eye and greater sense of wonder. All materials are provided except for an 8x10 inch (or larger) sketchbook of the participants choice. Workshop participants should also bring their own Xacto knife, scissors, metal ruler, and small container of rubber cement. In the two- to three hour teasers we develop a series of quick and fun color sketches as answers to these questions, covering the core concepts behind color relatedness so that participants leave with a more finely tuned eye and sense of wonder. All materials are provided except for an 8x10 inch (or larger) sketchbook of the participants choice. In an age when young people are systematically educated out of creativity, and adults — even professional artists — are conditioned to avoid failure and “not knowing”, this class is strategic for all ages and abilities, benefiting greatly from a mix.

We do not learn technique; we gain experience.

We do not get answers; we ask better questions.

We do not learn to mix paint; we develop the capacity to see color, which is the prerequisite for any painter.

If you find you’ve taken the color of your world for granted, “Developing an Eye for Color” will awaken, refresh and inspire you to see what you’ve been missing! Jessica’s enthusiastic expertise in color theory is precisely matched with her ability to encourage you to deliver your best as you hone your attention to color detail. You’ll quickly grasp and enjoy the challenge of describing color in words and with paper and learn why it’s better to “see first, speak second”. Long after my last class, I continue to apply this useful tenet to daily life.
— Franziska Hart, Class of 2011
Jessica offers an inspirational class with a committed and focused eye on color and their relationships. She shares her passion and deep understanding for color in an engaging and experimental manner.
— Lindsay Pinchbeck, Director Sweet Tree Arts
I loved participating in your creative process with lots of grace and no pressure to perform. Interaction with friends around the colorful table allowed the creative juices to flow, brought forth new perspectives, and put smiles on our faces. I need more of this in my life…thank you, Jessica!
— Vicki Corrington, Class of 2011
In art, line can be a barrier more than an adequate definition of what one wants to convey. But in Jessica’s class, color trumps line. Her teaching awakened my senses and sensibilities by showing off color with numerous exercises that caused colors to shimmer, dance and even explode.
— Roger Akeley, Class of 2015
Jessica’s enthusiasm for this complex subject is stimulating, and her approach to teaching color is relaxed and fun, all the while informative. She loves color (as is obvious when looking at her own amazing paintings) and loves to share what she’s learned about it after years of study and practice. She opened my eyes (and brain) to begin to both see and understand how color works, and how I can use it in ways I couldn’t have imagined to make better pictures. It is a sophisticated aspect of painting most artists don’t understand well, let alone teach. I now routinely use what I learned as a practical tool for finding just the right colors for my paintings.
— David Blanchard, Class of 2014