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The plaid theory of color mixing.

For many years, the old reliable method of using tempera paint or crayons for beginning color mixing has served well to produce an immediate recognition of what happens when two primaries meet. Yet these simple exercises always stop short of more challenging multi-media techniques. Are there sequential experiences in basic color mixing that can reinforce new learning?

Recently, I developed an activity that extends learning while highlighting the concepts of a limited palette, multi-media and collage. In other words, I've found a method of extending the initial excitement of discovery to a more complex problem solving level without sacrificing time or frustrating the beginning student.

The activity requires great control of materials and forces the student to consider a variety of solutions to the visual problems of balance and dominance. It produces a unique plaid-like result using a variety of media, and is suitable for grade four through adult.

The process is a basic crayon design technique combined with tissue collage. Students choose between warm or cool colors, light or dark and opaque or translucent. For a "trial and error" experience, the student could select colors and lines at random.

Materials:

9" x 12" (23 cm x 30 cm) or smaller

white paper (medium weight) Red, yellow and blue crayons or oil

pastels Red, yellow and blue tissue paper

strips, 1/2" to 1" wide White glue or acrylic polymer gloss

medium 1" flat brushes Water/glue containers; mix 2 parts

glue or polymer to 1 part water Newspaper or magazines (for pads

under paper)

Art concepts and techniques:

hue(warm/cool) value(dark/light) thick/thin/straight lines gloss/matte contrast bleeding/non-bleeding tissue paper dominance/emphasis primary colors secondary colors translucent weaving overlapping/overlay plaid surface texture

Process:

1. Using only the three primary colors on medium-weight white paper, crayon a variety of stripes (straight lines) across the width of the paper. Turn the paper 90[degrees] and repeat, covering most or all of the surface. (Always use a "pad" under the paper to permit a rich, thick build-up of the wax crayon.) This first step should result in a multi-colored plaid that is made of the three primaries (RYB) and the three secondaries (OGP), a dominance/emphasis of one hue (its warmth/coolness and its value), and strong contrast (especially where dark (B) and light (Y) meet).

2. Using a 2:1 mixture of white glue (matte finish) or acrylic polymer medium (satin gloss finish), brash the crayoned surface with a thin coat of the adhesive.

3. Immediately apply tissue strips of varying widths on or beside the crayon strips. In most cases, tissue colors should match the crayon beneath to reinforce the original hue, value dominance and contrast. Explain that deluxe tissue paper will bleed, while standard tissue will not. (Deluxe tissue paper is dipped into dye vats; the dye is on the surface of the paper. Standard tissue is made of pulp and dye mixed together--the dye doesn't run or bleed, the colors are less intense, and the paper is less expensive.) Repeat the tissue application across the paper at a 90[degrees] angle, applying adhesive as necessary.

4. For a matte finish, use minimal adhesive and white glue; for a final gloss finish, coat the surface one last time with polymer.

5. Immediately wash polymer out of brushes with soap and water. Clean the rest of the area as needed.

6. When dry, mount or display on selected background paper that reinforces the dominant hue and value. Fringe effects can be achieved by using strips of tissue paper longer than the original white paper.

The only difficult part of this activity occurs when deluxe tissue is used with moisture. Complete the crayon layer as described. Then coat the surface of the work with a thin coat of adhesive (half water and half white glue or polymer medium). Quickly lay the tissue strips into the adhesive and gently "paint" into the surface from light to dark. If the dye from the tissue discolors the brush, rinse with clear water, reapply the thinned adhesive to the brush, and complete the collage process. Allow to dry completely before giving the final coat of adhesive.

Heather Hanlon is a member of The Department of Art, Illinois State University, Normal, Illinois.
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Author:Hanlon, Heather
Publication:School Arts
Date:Sep 1, 1990
Words:712
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