Assignment #5

Color Interaction Pairings

Problem: Create a series paired interaction color studies. Try to make 1 color appear as 2 different colors by altering its surrounding/background color.

Limits: Using gouache and digital techniques, create Josef Albers-style pairs. These consist of large squares 2″x2″ of a varying hues and small 1/2″x1/2″ center squares of one chosen hue. The small squares will sit in the middle of the large squares and should be the same for each pair.

Materials: Creative Process Book, pencils, Bristol Board 9×6″, gouache paints, brushes, palette, rags, water container, scissors, exacto knife, ruler/t-square, glue, misc. chosen materials and flash/jump drive.

Concepts: Simultaneous Contrast, After Images, Optical Mixing, Complementary Colors, Temperature.

Technical Skills: painting techniques, draughtsmanship with ruler/t-square, exacto knife and collage, photoshop/illustrator


Research / Inspiration

  • Josef Albers was a student of the Bauhaus in Germany and color educator at the Black Mountain College and Yale. His experiments in color relationships are used throughout the world in the study of design and color.
  • Use this tool to experiment with color interactions:
  • Find two examples in any medium (web, print, film, billboard, etc.) that demonstrates Simultaneous Contrast. Write at least one paragraph in your CBP explaining your observations. Be sure to printout and paste an image of your examples in your CPB.

Experimentation / Iteration
For specific instructions and references refer to the class outlines and notes from classes 21-23.

Create a total of 8* paired interaction color studies– making 1 color appear as 2 different colors by changing its surrounding color. Each PAIR consists of 2 interactions for a total of 4 interactions per page. The small square should be the same for each pair. Each PAIR consists of 2 interactions.

Create the following pairs:

  • Group 1: 2 pairs of achromatic gray studies will explore interactions by shifting value.
  • Group 2: 2 pairs of color studies will explore interactions by shifting value (with color)
  • Group 3: 2 pairs of color studies will explore interactions by shifting hue, but not value.
  • Group 4: 2 pairs of color studies will explore interactions by shifting hue and value.
  • Extra Credit: 2 pairs of color studies will attempt to make two different colors look as a like as possible.


  • Use leftover scraps from your previous saturation studies and/or create new.
  • For each group make 4 large 2×2″ squares and 4 small 1/2 x 1/2″ squares .
  • The small squares will sit in the middle of the large squares and should be the same color/value for each pair.
  • Each study should be properly mounted on clean 9×12″ bristol.


*NOTE: If you choose to work digitally, please adhere to the following additional guidelines:

  • Create (2) additional color interaction pairs for each study. A total of (4) pairs per study.
  • Your final Color Interaction Studies should be presented in exactly the same format as outlined in the Assignment Guidelines.
  • If you do not have a GOOD color printer at home, you will need to take your files to a copy shop, like Kinkos on Court St. or SaveMor on Flatbush Ave. D0 NOT “scale to fit” when printing.
  • Even if your digital files are accurate, if your printouts do not demonstrate the color interactions intended, you will not receive credit for the assignment.
  • NOTE: A detailed demonstration will be given in class. If you miss the demo, complete the assignment in paint.

Expression of Form, Emotions, or Concepts

Paired Color Identities Free-Study

  • Find a partner and choose a color that defines their identity (the type of person you perceive them to be).
    • “I think you are outgoing and friendly. The color that defines you is prismatic Yellow-Orange.”
    • “I think you are shy and smart. The color that defines you is a light, muted, Blue-Green.”
  • Ask your partner to do the same. Use paint, color wheel, or cut paper to demonstrate this color to your partner.
  • Come to an agreement about your respective color choices. Your partner’s color choice (the color that defines your identity) must be different than yours (the color you choose for your partner’s identity.)
  • Between the two of you, choose one additional color that is in contrast to both of your color choices. You may need to choose a less-saturated hue or variation in value in order to create good contrast. Spend a few minutes experimenting with these color interactions.
  • You only have two hues to work with: one will be a surrounding/influencing color and one will be a surrounded/influenced color. Like the Paired Interactions Studies we just completed, keep your shared hue exactly the same.
  • Create a personal icon or symbol that represents your partner’s personality.
    • This personal icon should be silhouette >> Portraits, generally in profile, from black card became popular in the mid-18th century. They are used in many mediums to give immediate identification or meaning.
    • Take a look at the artwork of Kara Walker to see how she uses this method to convey meaning in her work.
    • Also look at Indonesian Wayang Kulite – Shadow puppetry.
    • Research all the different ways silhouette is used in graphic design, theater and art.
  • Design a 9×12″ vertical composition that illustrates your partner’s personality using your chosen hue and the shared contrasting hue.
    • Consider the entire page and make sure the icon or symbol is sized and placed appropriately in order to demonstrate a stable figure-ground relationship. Make this choice with your partner, so that your individual compositions work together.
  • You will work independently, but your compositions will be displayed together and should demonstrate how one color (your shared color) can have two different identities depending on what hue it is surrounded by. Do this by exploring shifts in value, hue, and temperature through Simultaneous Contrast.
  • The final composition can utilize any medium you choose, but consult your partner to make sure the medium you choose will create a unified pair.
  • As with previous free-studies, research, thumbnails, color tests, consideration of overall compositional balance between figure and ground, unity, and communication of a clear concept or theme is important!

Thoughtful Assessment (verbal and written)

  • Critique
    • Bring all assignment parts to class, protected in a portfolio case or protective paper or cardboard envelope.
    • Be prepared to present, discuss and analyze your finished work in terms of concept, craft, what you learned, and creative process.
    • State the following: your name, what you are presenting (title and design problem), which parts are successful and why, which parts are unsuccessful and why
  • Written Assessment
    • In your Creative Process Book, at the end of the Assignment #4 section, document your thoughts about this project. Think about what you learned, what you could have done better (planning, material use, craft), and how you will apply what you learned to your next project.

Work Hour Tally

  • In your Creative Process Book, outline the hours committed for each portion of the assignment, including dates and times.
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