How do you teach someone something they already know?
They’ve seen all their lives. They learned about primary colors in kindergarten. They’ve taken art classes, enjoyed lectures and are now guides and docents at The Barnes Foundation which is one of the finest impressionist and post impressionist collections in the world. Some are artists themselves.
So what can I teach them about color? Furthermore, what can I teach them about color as it relates to The Barnes Foundation collection?
Quite a lot as it turns out. One of the handicaps of knowing something is that we stop asking questions about the things we think we know. We have a tendency to compartmentalize knowledge as it relates to disciplines. We treat it as discrete and fail to relate it to the whole.
Knowledge ≠ Understanding
And so it is with color theory, pigments and human perception. Knowledge gathered together by the scientific community over a hundred years ago has yet to establish roots in the fine art community.*
Over the course of four hours and five exercises, interspersed with lectures and demonstrations, a group of 35 plus learned how to see and think about color. And, hopefully to understand the decisions an artist makes trying to communicate something about what it means to be human.
Everything we see, everything we’ve ever seen is light.
It is with color that you render light, though you must also feel this light, have it within yourself.
– Henri Matisse
* The entertainment and advertising arts embraced these revelations when they were introduced in 1839 & 1879. It’s why we have color printing, color photography and color video.