painting of a white sphere in a white box.

Teaching art 6 – observing colour and light

Unfortunately the constraints of time needed for students to finish their paintings this exercise did not get the time needed. I managed to talk through it with Chalew as the rest of the students were preparing the space for the mini exhibition that was going to be held. Paul Evans, a representative from the Irish Embassy, was coming down to officially open the art gallery and store that would sell the ceramic coffee sets made by the women. Paintings needed finishing, documenting and hanging, ceramics needed to be set up.

Cut away all but two sides and the base of a cardboard box. Cover this corner entirely in white paper. Place a white styrofoam sphere into this white space. Ideally place a light source shining from an angle above.

I knew this part would not be possible as there is no electricity in the classrooms. Instead I advised them to put it in different places with different relationships to the light source, i.e. at different angles near the window, outside and so on. The important part is for the students to observe the colour in the reflected light. Only a small portion of a scene is actually white when you come to mix each colour in paint. Another interesting observation to make is the way the shadows work, how the darker tones lie beside the light. The places you would assume are the darkest are not in fact…

When working on this exercise one should mix each colour using only the three primaries – red, yellow and blue, and white. It is an exercise that requires a lot of patience but it is quite an interesting one to complete. When I did it in college I found an odd satisfaction in producing it multiple times.

Another step on from doing this exercise is to work on a still life scene where all the objects are painted white. Again when it comes to colour mixing very few areas are actually pure white.

I made a comprehensive set of notes detailing all the exercises I had covered during the week. I gave these to Chalew to translate into Amharic for the rest of the group.

Using reflected light. Painting of a white sphere in an orange box