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Ideas and Questions for Class Discussion and Accreditation Tasks


Key understanding

Our ability to respond to colors is the result of a complex process that can be understood by studying what takes place in the rods and cones of the eye. Many scientists and artists have studies color and light, developing color theory. Our vision is also affected by different qualities of paints such as egg tempera and oil color, influencing on the brightness of colors, color contrasts and depth of artworks.

Possible tasks and questions

  • What do the following terms mean?
    • Hue
    • Saturation
    • Luminance
  • Discuss the development of color theory.
  • Look at the entry on Goethe’s Color theories. What aspects do you imagine, appealed to Turner. and which to Monet? How true is that that both the artist’s and our perception, influences the way they portray, and we see, a particular subject? (Evidence in many entries, not just under this heading!)
  • What is the difference between egg tempera and oil paint?
  • What did Monet explore by making by painting over 20 paintings of the same haystacks?
  • When Kandinsky saw Monet’s paintings of haystacks, he said: “Deep within me the first doubt arose about the importance of the object as a necessary element in a picture.” What features of the haystack paintings prompted that remark and why?
  • Explore Bridget Riley’s White Disks (1964). This misleadingly simple picture by Bridget Riley shows black disks on a white background. Why is painting called White Disks? What is the physiological basis for the seeming contradiction?
  • Why do you think Riley found Seurat’s paintings, in particular, “Bridge of Courbevoie” ‘a revelation’? Compare some key factors, looking at illustrations, do you think a sense of ‘order’ or ‘discipline’ appealed to her? See if you can argue a case. Also: How did she, like Kandinsky, recognize a relationship between Art and Music?
  • Compare Richard Billingham’s two paintings. Do you think that changing the colour does diminish the ‘sense of run-down desolation’? You could argue this either way, as long as you can produce reasons!