HNC Autumn School – Day 2

Arriving for a 9.30am start gives time for coffee and a dohnut, from a shop close to the college. But I sit in the Craft Centre Cafe (closed and empty) until it is time to start work in the Drawing Studio. This seems a good moment to write up the previous day.

my own 'Munsell' Colour Wheel

my own colour wheel


Today’s studies in colour begin with the ‘colour wheel. With an illustration from the Munsell Colour Space the task is to produce a sequence of ‘principal’ colours spread out in segments around the wheel. These colours are selected from the designer goache tubes indentified in the course materials list. With these in place a sequence of ‘intermediate’ colours are produced as progressions between the principal colours: six in all. The final stage is to produce ‘shades’ (adding grey) and tints (adding white).

This painting exercise reveals to me just how difficult mixing can be:individual colour react to mixing in very different and subtle ways. Working with six principal colours requires a large and organised palette. I must find out how a painter would organise mixing in goache. This medium is water-based and when used to overlay makes the paint underneath become wet again, only it has a harder surface and texture than water-colour paint.

Completing the colour wheel task led to a valuable explanattion about some of the essential terminology of colour: value, hue, shade, tint, chroma.

The Munsell Colour Space (developed in the 1930s) has its own notation. But the current international standard is known as Pantone. This is used by designers to specify all the above qualities of colour. Curiously, this system does not appear to be present within established software like Photoshop. The class was given detailed notes on the Munsell approach. I’ll need to reference Pantone in a similar way.

My Collection of Ferns

My Collection of Ferns


The afternoon was devoted to working on the colour aspects of our first project: organics. I brought in a selection of ferns and bracken found by the lake in my nearby park (very early this morning!). Chosen in the dark (almost) I was amazed when I reached the studio at the differences in these ferns: in colour, texture, patterning and proportion. I needn’t have worried about whether my chosen ‘organic’ would be too limited in scope for this project!

A Collection of Fern Images


As with yesterday’s drawing exercises I assembled a group of images on a single A3 sheet, taking photos of each example as I went along. Beginning with direct observation (using water-colour pencils in my notebook) I moved on to more abstract representations, possibly closer to what I might imagine suitable for a woven surface. I should say the latter inclination was not the intention of the exercise, but I was curious to see what might come out of thinking this way. I ended this sequence of example images by making a print from coating a fern with goache permanent green (a veridian green).

A Negative Fern

A Negative Fern


As a preparation to working on the A3 sheet I made a series of exploratory images in my notebook. These images were in some ways more successful and meaningful than their larger companions. In one of these I responded to a photo I’d taken and turned into a negative. This image had some most subtle colours that only gradually revealed themselves: the negative white was suffused with pink and blue. I tried to reproduce this using a piece of black cartridge paper: not very good.

A Fern Print

A Fern Print


I was very surprised at the sheer variety of colour within what appeared at the outset as a totally green fern! The process of making one’s own images from life forces an attention and focus that becomes more and more stimulating. Previously, when I’ve attempted to draw and paint from life, I’ve been on holiday working outside with all the distractions that can bring. Working in a studio is quite different. The intensity of one’s actions and concentration should not surprise  me, but they do. I completely loose track of time and am thoroughly surprised when I realise it’s five o’clock and time to pack up and go home.

Tomorrow we take the images produced through drawing and painting and use them as a basis for COLLAGE.


One Response to “HNC Autumn School – Day 2”

  1. surinder warboys Says:

    Hi Nigel,
    I came across your blog and really enjoyed it, thank you.
    All the best

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