Day 3 — Wednesday, June 13 — Art

Teaching Color in Art and Design

The talk will start by examining the development of color-teaching from the earliest important source, Giovan Paolo Lomazzo’s ‘Treatise on the art of painting’, of 1584, through the many books variously influenced by it, to later textbooks on color for artists that were increasingly influenced, after Isaac Newton’s ‘Opticks’ (1704), by discoveries in the sciences, especially physics, vision and psychophysics. The talk will conclude with a brief examination of such Modernist color teachers as Paul Klee, Johannes Itten, and Josef Albers, and the opportunities and limitations offered by their well-documented approaches to teaching color in art and design.


Roy Osborne began lecturing on the theory and practice of color after publication of his ‘Lights and Pigments: Colour Principles for Artists’ in 1980, one of the first books to link traditional with new art media. A well-know editor and writer on the subject of color in art, he has exhibited extensively as a painter and taught and lectured at some 200 institutions worldwide. He is the author of ‘Color Influencing Form: A Color Coursebook’ (2004) and recently published a definitive color bibliography, ‘Books on Colour 1495-2015’ which includes a concise history and over 3,000 annotated titles cross-referenced by author and date of publication.

Munsell's Vision for Teaching Artists

Even though Munsell ended up a business man, with a focus on selling a system of color identification, he started out as an artist attempting to find a way to teach color that would help artists of all ages to harmonize color.

Munsell was an artist. He went to and taught at an art school. He painted portraits on commission. He had a painting studio in the Back Bay of Boston. His first ideas were about teaching color harmony and they were a bit strange - giving children muddy colors for example. His system was used initially in products sold for use in teaching art to children. If you read his diaries you see that he spent many years lecturing teachers and art educators about his system.

But as he explored color science more and more, he began advocating for teaching what he called "Color Sense" rather than "Color Theory". 


Joy Turner Luke wrote and illustrated "The Munsell Color System, A Language for Color" published by Fairchild Publications as the text accompanying the first three editions of the Munsell Student Color Set. 
Working as an artist and teacher for over 50 years, Joy has participated in many exhibitions, and taught numerous color in composition and design classes.


Regina Lee Blaszczyk  is Professor of the Business History and Leadership Chair in the History of Business and Society at the University of Leeds in the UK. She is the author or editor of a number of books on color including The Color RevolutionBright Modernity: Color, Commerce, and Consumers, and The Fashion Forecasters: A Hidden History of Color and Trend Prediction, and serves on the editorial boards of Enterprise and Society and History of Retailing and Consumption. From 2009 to 2015, she was an associate editor at the Journal of Design History, the top design history journal in the humanities.

An award winning historian, Professor Blaszczyk's career has included jobs as a cultural history curator at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History in Washington, DC; as an American studies professor at Boston University; and as director of the Beckman Center for the History of Chemistry at the the Chemical Heritage Foundation in Philadelphia. From 2005 to 2012, she was a visiting professor at the University of Pennsylvania while running a consultancy dedicated to America's innovation heritage. 

Relating Munsell to Other Systems in An Elastic Color Solid  

For a student of architecture in the early 1960s the Munsell system was a revelation. Munsell’s hue, value, and chroma were perfectly clear, but then they were challenged by the Ostwald system with its white content and black content. Revelation was followed by confusion. It became evident that there is no such thing as a single ‘correct’ colour solid or, indeed, a single ‘correct’ colour circle. Colour circles can be structured with equally spaced ‘primaries’ or organised so that ‘complementary’ colours are opposite to each other, but different systems have different sets of primaries, and different ways of establishing complementary relationships yield different pairings. These different relationships can be reconciled if the circle is treated as elastic with intervals between colours stretched or compressed to show the relationships relevant for a given situation. In the third dimension of a colour solid the principle of elasticity can also be applied show relationships of value or of whiteness/blackness; the structure of Munsell can be ‘morphed’ into that of Ostwald. During this talk I will show that, if the colour solid is regarded as elastic, it is easier to understand the information embodied in the structures of different colour order systems and also to see how they relate. 


Paul Green-Armytage was born and educated in England, graduating as an architect in 1964. After ten years’ experience working as an architect, exhibition designer and set designer for television in England, Canada and Australia, he took up a position, in 1976, as senior lecturer in charge of the first year program in design at what is now Curtin University, in Perth Australia. His interest in color research led to a PhD in 2005; the title of his thesis was “Colour, Language and Design”. He has contributed papers at many national and international conferences, served as a member of the executive committee of the International Colour Association and as president of the Colour Society of Australia. He retired from teaching in 2006 but remains active as a researcher and writer.

Contemporary Realism

This slide presentation will show how Classic Realism meets Contemporary Realism in the work of many painters today.


Graydon Parrish attended New York Academy of Art before graduating summa cum laude from Amherst College, Amherst, Massachusetts. An internationally acclaimed artist, his paintings combine classical and contemporary realism.


What Art Can Tell Us About the Brain

Artists have been doing experiments on vision longer than neurobiologists. Some major works of art have provided insights as to how we see; some of these insights are so fundamental that they can be understood in terms of the underlying neurobiology. For example, artists have long realized that color and luminance can play independent roles in visual perception. Picasso said, "Colors are only symbols. Reality is to be found in luminance alone." This observation has a parallel in the functional subdivision of our visual systems, where color and luminance are processed by the evolutionarily newer, primate-specific What system, and the older, colorblind, Where (or How) system.

Many techniques developed over the centuries by artists can be understood in terms of the parallel organization of our visual systems. I will explore how the segregation of color and luminance processing are the basis for why some Impressionist paintings seem to shimmer, why some op art paintings seem to move, some principles of Matisse's use of color, and how the Impressionists painted "air". Central and peripheral vision are distinct, and I will show how the differences in resolution across our visual field make the Mona Lisa's smile elusive, and produce a dynamic illusion in Pointillist paintings, Chuck Close paintings, and photomosaics. I will explore how artists have intuited important features about how our brains extract relevant information about faces and objects, and I will discuss why learning disabilities may be associated with artistic talent.


Margaret Livingstone is Professor of Neurobiology at Harvard Medical School. She has done research on hormones and behavior, learning, dyslexia, and vision. Livingstone has explored the ways in which vision science can understand and inform the world of visual art. She has written a popular lay book, Vision and Art, which has brought her acclaim in the art world as a scientist who can communicate with artists and art historians, with mutual benefit. She generated some important insights into the field, including a simple explanation for the elusive quality of the Mona Lisa’s smile (it is more visible to peripheral vision than to central vision) and the fact that Rembrandt, like a surprisingly large number of famous artists, was likely to have been stereoblind.

Where is Color Education Now? The Influence of Science and Technology

Technology is constantly providing new resources for color education: to take just one example, Zsolt Kovacs-Vajna’s program “drop2color” is unprecedented in providing painters with three-dimensional representations of colorant mixing paths in Munsell space. Above all, the internet facilitates access to information ranging from rare historical texts on sites like to current publications, and allows anyone in the world to join in the task of disseminating a better understanding of color, and to have their efforts tested, refined and shared by an international audience.

This talk will discuss how applying technology and current color science to color education can help bridge the gap between the science and art of color.


Dr David Briggs is a painter and teacher of painting, life drawing, anatomy and colour at the Julian Ashton Art School and the National Art School, Sydney. His classes specifically on color have included “Theories of Colour”, a Bachelor of Fine Arts lecture course on the theory and historical practice of color in the Art History and Theory Department at the National Art School, “Traditional and Modern Colour Theory”, a Public Programs course primarily for secondary school teachers also at the National Art School, and a long running workshop “Colour, Light and Vision” at the Julian Ashton Art School. David is the author of a website on modern colour theory for painters, “The Dimensions of Colour” (2007- ; and has contributed to publications including the chapter “Colour Spaces” in the forthcoming “Routledge Handbook of Philosophy of Colour”. David is currently serving a term as Chairperson of the New South Wales Division of the Colour Society of Australia (2015 - ).