Rebuilding Foundations: Colour Studies, Redux

Unit 1: Colour Wheel - Subtractive Primaries and Secondaries

Unit 1: Colour Wheel - Subtractive Primaries and Secondaries

Recently, I’ve been walking myself through a telecourse called “Colour – An Introduction”. This course intends to help anyone effectively use and appreciate colour in many different capacities. It was designed to be for a general audience, with no specific art or design training or prerequisite experience.

Originally co-produced by BC’s Knowledge Network and The Open Learning Agency around 1987, this award-winning telecourse was comprised of nine video programs and a printed course manual. It was first aired on BC’s Knowledge Network and for years was broadcast and offered as a Foundation-level colour course to students across Canada and internationally.

In the mid-2000s, after the OLA’s catalog was taken over by Thompson Rivers University, Colour and its companion Foundation telecourses continued to be offered offline via DVD.

Foundations of Colour

As a student at Emily Carr College in the 80s, I studied under (and later worked for) Master Art Educator Dr. Tom Hudson. At that time, Tom and ECCAD’s Outreach department had made it their mission to make ECCAD’s first year Foundation curriculum available to the general public through distance learning. Colour was the first of four series that Tom wrote and hosted.

Although I’d never formally taken Tom’s Colour telecourse, I was able to get a spare draft copy of its manual, and I religiously taped the video episodes off of TV. Although I’d already taken Foundation Colour classes, the theory and perception of colour continued to fascinate me. I read and bought books on colour and perception, and learned a great deal by studying under Tom’s expert personal guidance. To me, Tom’s manual for “Colour: An Introduction” was a must-have item for my growing library, and an indispensable artifact of Tom’s studio-based teaching methodology.

Computer as Tools for Learning About Colour

I was one of two second year fine arts students selected by Tom to be his “computer students”. Where Tom’s other students used charcoal, ink, graphite or paint to explore visual language in his summer master classes, we worked almost exclusively on Amiga personal computers.

Back in the 1980s, desktop computer technology was still relatively in its infancy, with different platforms offering different capabilities of colour range and spatial resolution. My earliest explorations in computer-based visual literacy research were using a Commodore 64 running Koala Painter and a KoalaPad drawing tablet and stylus. Months later, Emily Carr College acquired dozens of Amiga personal computers, and I continued using the Amiga platform for visual literacy research and animation development over the next four years.

This Round of Research

In my new series of personal research in colour, I’m using a Blackberry Playbook tablet and sometimes, Adobe Photoshop on a Windows PC.

I guess the moral of this story is:

Once a computer-based visual literacy student, always a computer-based visual literacy student. :)

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