Color Psychology


Color psychology is the study of color as a determining factor of human behavior. Some examples of various color significances and impressions are listed below:

Significances & Impressions

Assignment One

Using Color-Aid Paper, answer six different personal questions involving the psychological responses to hues, shades and tints based on ordinary color experiences.

Assignment Questions

DiscoveryColor Answers

I began this project by choosing the colors that I thought answered each question starting with the color that would represent me. I chose a deep, dark purple for a couple of reasons: first, purple has always been my favorite color; second, purple is a royal, strong, bold color that signifies authority, influence and complexity. I grew up in a stereotypical “boys should like green, blue and red; girls should like yellow, pink and violet” type society, so I instantly wanted to be different and I picked purple. I’ve loved the richness and strength of not only the color but the decision to be diverse.

Wearable ColorsThe colors I like to wear were chosen basically based on clothes I wear to work. As a white-collar worker in Information Technology, I dress casually but in professional attire. Unwearable ColorsBlack and tan slacks along with red and blue shirts are common, along with black shirts and blue slacks. Other colors are obviously common but we were limited to four. Conversely, colors I do not like to wear include yellows, peach hues, dark greens and plum shades.

House Colors I chose the colors I’d like to see in my house by starting with a couple colors with which I have already decorated my home:  dusty-rose and moss-green. To compliment these light and unsaturated choices, I added a light violet and sky blue.

Video ColorsFor the music video colors, I chose bold and bright yellows and oranges balanced with dark and solid greens and blues. The feeling I experienced from this combination of hues reminded me of many of the music videos of the 1980’s, when the extreme, loud styles clashed with the realistic colors in nature.

Shopping ColorsI chose some interesting colors based on the challenge of finding three hues that might make me want to shop. Normally, bold, bright primary colors have this effect but I chose an analogous combination of green, blue and teal that indicate expensive, sophisticated purchasing; not that I could actually afford to go through with such an acquisition.

Bristol BoardI started each board by cutting a piece of Bristol board to the desired dimensions needed to display each set of color selections. To include a one inch border on each design, I measured the single color board to a 4”x4” square. I spacedPersonal Color the four and three color swatches by ¼” so the four-color version measured 10 ¾”x 4” and the three-color version measured 8 ½”x4”. Each board was measured and marked for each swatch placement, as well.

Rubber cement was utilized to affix each color sample to its background and then a rubber cement eraser was used to clean excess glue from the Bristol board and a kneaded eraser was used to clean the guidelines from each background.













Assignment Two

Color symbolism comes from the cultures in which we live. Certain colors and color combinations are associated with other cultures or places. Color is symbolic and can affect the way a viewer perceives a design or work of art.

Design a creative travel poster of your choice with color selections that reflect the place being advertised. Use Gouache or acrylic paints.  Develop a color scheme that employs symbolic colors; choose colors for the type and background with good value and interesting contrast. Start by researching the country, place or tourist attractions. Consider the appearance you want to project and use images that reflect the culture and history of the place you want to showcase. Demonstrate an ability to choose colors based on their symbolism and psychology.


Obviously, the first task was to decide upon a destination my poster was going to portray. I started this process by randomly researching several famous landmarks, monuments and memorials. I included each subject’s geographical location and national flag.

Monumental Research

This chore alone didn’t narrow down my decision; on the contrary, it expanded the possibilities exponentially.  I first examined each country’s flag for color inspiration. Brazil, Egypt and India were all promising, each containing four different hues. Italy, China and Japan utilized interesting colors; although, China and Japan were limited to two colors which reduced the base color palette. The United Kingdom, France, Russia, Australia and Chile all contained the same colors as the United States, which, while absolutely wonderful, I wanted to avoid for this project.

To further narrow my results, I created silhouettes of each monument I had studied as a muse for the final design.

Leaning Tower of Pisa Cristo RedentorBig Ben

Taj MahalTorii of Itsukushima Shrine

Eiffel TowerGiza Necropolis

ColiseumGreat Sphinx of GizaStonehengeGreat Wall of ChinaForbidden CitySt. Basil's Cathedral                Sydney Opera HouseMoai

The Torii of Itsukushima Shrine stood out as the most dramatic visual image and lent itself to many immediate design potentials. A close runner-up was the Cristo Redentor   in Rio de Janeiro. After investigating the histories and significances of each monument, I returned to my original choice and moved forward with The Torii.

Additional Design Elements

Starting with the simple silhouette of The Torii, I added the “sun” of the Nisshōki, Japan’s national flag. I then included a gradient background from a watery blue at the base of the image to a light yellow in the upper half of the composition. Lastly, a branch of light pink cherry blossoms were added to the lower, right hand corner of the piece.

Torii SilhouetteAdd Hinomaru Add BackgroundAdd Cherry Blossoms

The red circle from the Nisshōki signifies sincerity, brightness and warmth while simultaneously indicating bravery, strength and valor. While the white on the flag represents purity and honesty, I chose to utilize blue and yellow for two reasons: first, the blue in the bottom half of the design abstractly eluded to the water that the Torii is surrounded by at every high tide while the yellow in the upper half of the design symbolizes the morning sky in which the rising sun, or Hinomaru, of the Nisshōki perpetually resides.

The addition of the cherry blossoms represents the fragility and the beauty of life. To the Japanese it’s a reminder that life is overwhelmingly beautiful but also tragically short. Furthermore, a fallen cherry blossom symbolizes a fallen samurai who sacrificed his life for the emperor. In 1912, Japan gave 3,020 cherry-blossom trees to the United States as a gift to honor the growing bond between the two countries. The pink hue of the cherry blossoms symbolizes good health and life as well as purity and love.

I chose not to incorporate any text to my poster. I let my images and color choices speak for themselves.


I utilized 18”x24” Illustration Board for this project. I added a two inch border with a soft pencil and taped off the border with masking tape to ensure crisp lines would be produced after painting.

Illustration BoardTaped Border

I began painting the background first, starting with the blue bottom half of the design. I spread a pure blue layer followed by two lighter blues created by adding white incrementally. Next, I added a pure yellow background to the other half of the composition. I incorporated a layer of light yellow by adding white and then mixed up a third layer of yellow-orange as a top coat.

Blue BackgroundLayer 2 & 3
Yellow Background
Layer 2Layer 3

Red Disc The next element to add was Hinomaru, the rising sun. Slightly off-center, the red disc was placed in the upper left-hand side of the composition.

For the next two elements, I traced positive and negative images of the Torii silhouette and the cherry blossoms, respectively.

Torii Template
Positive & Negative Trace
Torii TraceTorii Transferred

Torii Painted

Once the Torii was transferred to the painting, it was painted with Mars Black acrylic paint and the same process was performed on the cherry blossom branch.

Cherry Blossom Template

Detailed Transfer

One hint, when transferring a detailed design, is to shade finished sections lightly as you trace. This ensures all the potions of the transfer are completed.

The cherry blossoms were painted with a pink and pink-white mixture to produce varied tints and shades, mostly within the branches and flowers with the branches containing more shade and the flowers containing more tinted hues.

Cherry Blossoms Transfer Cherry Blossoms Transferred

The branch was extended into the border and off the composition completely while a few fallen petals were dropped into the border but not off the design. This last compositional choice symbolizes the start of life from the branch entering the image from the right side of the piece and represents the end of life by the fallen petals; however, the petals have not completely left the design just as our loved ones never leave our thoughts and memories. Between the two events lies the beauty of life, with some petals grouped together and some alone and fending for themselves, but all part of a bigger picture, a more important design.

Torii of the Itsukushima Shrine
Torii of the Itsukushima Shrine

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Color Relativity


The Color Relativity projects are based on Josef Albers’ color theory exercises and are designed to demonstrate the phenomenology of color and investigate the interaction of color.

Using the color theories of value, subtraction and complementary (simultaneous) contrast, resolve the following problems with Color-Aid paper mounted on Bristol board.Exercise Format

  1. Make one color appear as two.
  2. Make one color appear as the opposite ground.
  3. Make two colors appear as one.


Value is the lightness or darkness of a color. The more white you add to a color or hue, the lighter the value. When you add white to lighten a color, it is called a tint. The more black you add to a color, the darker the value. When you add black to a color to darken it, the resultant color is then called a shade. If you add gray to a color, it results in a tone.

A subtractive color model explains the mixing of a limited set of colorants to create a wider range of colors, each the result of partially or completely subtracting (absorbing) some wavelengths of light and not others. The color that a surface displays depends on which parts of the visible spectrum are not absorbed and therefore remain visible.

Simultaneous contrast is the tendency of a color to induce its opposite in hue, value and intensity upon an adjacent color and be mutually affected in return.

Cutting Bristol BoardExercise One

The objective of this experiment is to have one foreground color look like two different colors by placing it on two different backgrounds.

I began this project by cutting Bristol board to size, specifically 5 ½”x7”, with an X-acto knife and a ruler on a self-healing mat.

After testing several color combinations, I settled on a dark blue background and a light yellow background with an orange foreground. The Color-Aid paper I utilized was 2”x3” and I extracted two 1” squares for the foreground. The next step was to simply attach each background to its Bristol board counterpart and, in turn, fasten each foreground color to the appropriate background. To ensure I centered each piece correctly, I measured and marked every component, either by cross-hairs or guideline marks.

Color TestingAttaching BackgroundsCentering Foregrounds

The final result creates the illusion of the square on top of the yellow background being slightly darker than its natural hue and the square on top of the blue background seems slightly lighter than its natural hue.


Exercise Two

Hue ExperimentsThe objective of this experiment is to have one foreground color look like its opposite background color of two different backgrounds.

This project was actually the most challenging and I skipped to exercise three and came back to this one after giving my eyes a chance to recuperate. The difficult part of this task was solving the problem of making three colors seem as only two, with the foreground of study one mimicking the background of study two and vice versa. While the backgrounds are different, the foreground of each is the same hue.

Measured & MarkedIt took quite a while to experiment with many colors, shades and tints before I found an acceptable series of peach swatches that accomplished my desired effect. By placing the two background hues beside each other with the third color crossing both and then breaking the connection with a piece of white paper, I could visualize the result: the figure in study one mimicked the ground in study two and the figure in study two mimicked the ground in study one. Happy with my choice, I measured and marked my Bristol board to apply the background pieces and then marked the dimensions of the foreground squares.

 Backgrounds Center Marks Foregrounds

While similar to exercise one, where one color darkened on a light background and lightened on a dark background, exercise two also added the transformation influence to complicate the illusion.


Exercise Three


Blue Swatches

The objective of this experiment is to have two different foreground colors on two different backgrounds appear as the same color.

I began this project by selecting two different blue swatches that I wanted to appear as the same color. To accomplish this task, I experimented with several different backgrounds and settled on two different shades of green: one a light, yellow-green to offset the darker blue and the other a darker moss-green to enhance the light blue. Again, I affixed the background pieces first, painstakingly measuring and gluing with rubber cement. After each piece dried, I cleaned the edges with a rubber cement eraser to ensure a clean presentation.

Shades of GreenCementing BackgroundsAffixing Foregrounds

The final result creates the illusion of both squares being the same hue while, in reality, they are actually different colors displayed on different backgrounds and simply appear to be the same.


One additional project was added to Albers’ three original exercises: a value demonstration in a series of four ground hues with one identical figure color on each.

Exercise Four

Custom Bristol BoardThis experiment demonstrates the value change a single color displays while being placed upon different backgrounds of varying hues, shades and tints.

To begin, I needed to cut a custom piece of Bristol board to encompass four ground samples but this time they would be separated by some white space. To ensure my piece was consistent and professionally displayed, I planned the placement of each 2”x3” swatch ¼” apart with a 1 ¼” boarder. With these internal dimensions decided, the Bristol board itself would measure 5 ½”x11 ¼”.

GuidelinesSmall tick-marks and light guidelines were added to the prepared Bristol board to ensure proper placement of each value display. Before permanently affixing each ground and figure, I visualized the order of hues by placing each on the Bristol board: starting with the darkest hue and shade and moving left to right until reaching the lightest hue and tint. I choose a dark green, royal purple, primary orange and a light gray as my backgrounds and a light yellow as the foreground color that would be displayed as each figure.

Visualizing HuesAttaching Backgrounds

Next, each ground was attached to the Bristol board with rubber cement and the center of each was measured and marked to prepare for the figures. A rubber cement eraser was utilized to clean up any extra glue and the four figure squares were measured and cut for placement.

The final result creates the illusion of each square changing in value as it is viewed on different backgrounds thus demonstrating the relationship between figure and ground from a color theory perspective.


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Analogous Designs

Warm Vs. Cool


The analogous project’s intent is to demonstrate the differing impressions that cool and warm colors can have upon an identical design.

Analogous Colors


  • Analogous colors are groups of colors that are adjacent to each other on the color wheel, with one being the dominant color – which tends to be a primary or secondary color – and two on either side complementing – which tend to be tertiary.
  • Warm colors are often said to be hues from red through yellow, browns and tans included.
  • Cool colors are often said to be the hues from blue-green through blue-violet, most grays included.

Kitchen CompositionPreparation

I chose to recreate a design I had previously used while experimenting with simple black and white values: an abstractly, modest kitchen composition with exaggerated highlights and shadows.

The first step was to transfer the positive image to tracing paper and then copy the negative image on the opposite side of the tracing paper with a soft pencil. Once the tracing paper was ready, the image could be transferred to two different pieces of Bristol board: one for a cool composition and the other reserved for a warm version.

 Positive TraceNegative Trace


Warm Composition

My warm analogous design consisted of a yellow to red color palette where yellow appropriately represented the highlights and red signified the shadows. Between these two primary colors I utilized several tertiary colors including two versions of yellow-orange and two types of red-orange.

 Warm Composition

I was informed that my warm composition gave an impression that it had been developed with watercolors as opposed to the gouache paints I utilized; so, during the cool composition I attempted a thicker application.

Cool Composition

My cool analogous design consisted of a violet to green color scheme with green indicting the highlights and violet suggesting the shadows. Sandwiched between these two secondary colors I incorporated several tertiary colors including two forms of blue-violet and two variations of blue-green.

In both designs I added two colors at a time and then touched-up highlight and shadow areas after the composition was completely dry.

Colors 1 & 2Colors 3 & 4Colors 5 & 6


The results of my thicker application of paint were not pleasing to me personally but I did learn something, or perhaps realized something I already knew: art is created for the artist; if others appreciate the outcome, then that’s simply an added bonus. A second lesson learned was that the media is not important and neither is the ability of a viewer to recognize the media utilized. The work is the significant feature, not what created it or if an external party can identify the process employed. When technique becomes more important than the creative process or the piece itself, you’ve successfully destroyed the spirit of art.

Cool Composition

The last touch was to add the lettering to each design. I chose to utilize the lightest color for each: for the warm design, yellow; for the cool design, green.

Final Compositions

Warm Kitchen
Warm Kitchen


 Cool Kitchen
Cool Kitchen

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Color Wheels


The color wheel project is designed to better understand the relationships between the twelve most common color divisions along with their tints and shades and to develop painting techniques and mixing skills via practical exercises.


  • A color wheel, or color circle, is an abstract illustrative organization of hues around a ring that shows the associations between primary colors, secondary colors and tertiary colors as well as display complementary color affiliations.
  • Hue refers to a pure color: one without tint or shade.
  • Tint is the mixture of a color with white, which increases lightness.
  • Shade is the mixture of a color with black, which reduces lightness.
  • Primary colors are sets of colors that can be combined to make a useful range of colors. For human applications, three primary colors are usually used, since human color vision is trichromatic. These colors cannot be created by mixing others.
  • A secondary color is a color made by mixing two primary colors in a given color space.
  • A tertiary color is a color made by mixing either one primary color with one secondary color, or two secondary colors, in a given color space.
  • Complementary colors are pairs of colors which, when combined in the right proportions, produce white or black. When placed next to each other, they create the strongest contrast and reinforce each other.


Tracing TemplateClassic Color Wheel

The first exercise was to create a color wheel with the three primary colors, three secondary colors and six tertiary colors by utilizing black, white and the three primary colors only. Additionally, each color would include its tint in a second ring and its shade at the center of the wheel.

I started this project by tracing a color wheel template on tracing paper and transferring it to 11”x14” Bristol board.

To produce the twelve colors needed to complete the classic color wheel, I utilized Liquitex Basics acrylic Cadmium Yellow, Cobalt Blue Hue and Primary Red. To create each hue’s tint, I used Titanium White and to create each hue’s shade I used Ivory Black.

Classic Color Wheel

Personal Color Wheel

The second exercise was to create an abstraction from the classic version of a color wheel by interpreting the image in a personal manner while simultaneously adhering to the pattern of the original.


I began my process with a general vision of building blocks, stacked to a point and then tumbling down the opposite side of my composition. I chose this imagery for several reasons: first, the angular properties of square shapes directly contrasted with the gentle, circular properties of the classic ring, or wheel, layout; second, the positioning of such objects within my project could be more abstract without Layout Sketchabandoning the structure of the color wheel; and third, the inherent ability to show only three sides of a cube allowed me to distinctly display each hue’s tint and shade by assuming an implied light source.

I quickly sketched my initial impression of some blocks being stacked on one side of a piece of notebook paper and had the remaining cubes fall down the opposite side, thus completing the imagined circle. I also included indications of which colors would occupy which blocks starting with red and continuing around the classic wheel ending with red-violet.


I experimented with several perspectives before deciding on my final scheme. Beginning with a simple two-point perspective, I quickly realized that this method might produce issues with the ability to view enough of the third side of my cubes at certain angles, unless I wanted to be completely above or completely below the horizon line. With this thought in mind, I experimented with three-point perspective and assumed a vantage point slightly above my subject. I found that I wasn’t happy with my choices of block positioning utilizing this method and wasn’t prepared to calculate each block dimension to ensure consistent proportion, so I moved on to an unassuming  one-point perspective. After adding the first cube to this version, I knew I wouldn’t get the sought after effect in my final design, even though I did think it could work with this slightly abstract version. Then I came to the blindingly obvious realization that what I was looking for was, indeed, an abstract composition, so I threw out perspective entirely and concentrated on my basic shape: the humble cube.

Two-Point PerspectiveThree-Point PerspectiveOne-Point Perspective


Because I wanted to use the exact same cube dimensions for all twelve blocks, I created a transferable cube on tracing paper and began sampling block placement within my Bristol board. My first attempt at stacking the left side made me realize I’d have to be careful with my cube locations so that, as some blocks sat upon others, all three sides – or at least some portion of each – would remain visible. I Transparent Cubecompleted an entire version in a landscape layout with which  I could have moved forward; however, I discovered that the stacked side seemed too tight for my liking and conflicted with the tumbling, loose side. So, back to the drawing board I went. I started my next attempt with a pleasant, unrestricted stack of cubes but recognized I now required more vertical space to complete the effect I desired. By taking everything I’d learned thus far and applying my newly discovered knowledge to a portrait layout, I finally found a composition with which I was satisfied to continue.

Stacking BlocksSecond Set of BlocksLandscape Design

Portrait DesignColor Application

Now that I was ready to start painting, I needed to make some color placement choices. I knew that I wanted to start near the bottom of the stacked cubes and make my way through the primary, secondary and tertiary colors by climbing to the top of the stack and then following the falling blocks back to the bottom of the design. I decided to let my warm colors ascend through the work and
as they started to cool they would drop to the beginning and start their journey anew. This compositional plan lent credence to my piece by mimicking familiar heating and cooling behavior.

I assigned the innermost bottom block red-violet and moved in a clockwise motion through the warm hues, passing through red,
red-orange, orange, yellow-orange, yellow and yellow-green before dropping through the cool hues of green, green-blue, blue,
blue-violet and ending in violet.

I utilized a Simply Simmons Watercolor #4 round this time, but with all the same acrylic paints as before.


Warm Colors

Rising Hues

Cool Colors

Color Cubes
Color Cubes

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The end result of the Connectivity project is to merge several individual designs by different students into one, comprehensive and complimentary composition. The beauty of this project, however, lies in its process of problem solving and creation of visual metaphors.


Brainstorming Letter to Future Self [Giampa]

By writing a letter to your future self, approximately five years into the future, you will be compiling ideas that can be categorized within personal, inter-personal and sociocultural classifications. Think of this process as the Case side of a Case In Point exercise.

Some questions to consider while deciding what you would say to your future self may include the following:

  • How would you like to see yourself in the future, personally, in your career, in your relationships with others?
  • What dreams and goals would you like to have accomplished or be actively working toward by then?
  • What status would you like to have achieved your education, career or personal life at that time?
  • Consider your career and business goals, education and studies, finances, family, love, friends, health, spirituality, recreation, personal growth and community contributions.

Letter to Danny

Dear Danny, I hope you’re doing well by now. It’s been five years since you’ve heard from me, as I am the old you, the past you, the part of you you’ve grown away from – and rightly so! Although I will always be a part of you, a path you had to tread to become the person that you now are, you should never look back or return to what I am. The new you is who you were meant to be and I hope this letter finds you healing.

I expect you’re healing and thriving by now. I’m glad you’ve learned some lessons, although it took you quite a while to do so, and I hope that your plan of forgiveness is working hard in your life – to those who have hurt you and, more importantly, to yourself.

You will have attended Tiffany’s college graduation by now. I can feel how proud you are of her and Téa, who is now attending the college of her choice. You have been so blessed to have two such wonderful girls! I guess you’ve done a couple of things right!

It’s been a while, so I hope you’re treating that woman right. She’s a queen and deserves to be treated as such! Give her what she needs, it isn’t difficult: your undivided attention, your overflowing love, and your never-ending respect. Honor her devotion to you with unfaltering devotion to her! She is your friend, your lover, your heart and your soul; and if you ever take her for granted, if you ever forget why you belong together, if you ever cease to acknowledge how much you cherish her, you will find her beyond your grasp and only by the grace of God will she return to your undeserving arms.

You should be moving your career closer to a design oriented vocation of which you’ve always enjoyed. I’m sure you’re still working with the same employer, as you’ve finally found a job you could call a career along with a group of people you can call friends out of the office and mentors within your field. You decided long ago that your education would never be complete, so I expect you are still attending classes, learning new technologies, development processes and design techniques.

As your wonderful daughters have started new paths of their own and have left the nest, so to speak, I hope that your plan of maintaining a safe and secure home and keeping plenty of room for them to visit anytime they wish and are able while living their busy, successful lives. I’m sure that no matter where you are right now they will be welcome but I know you desperately wanted to keep their rooms ready and waiting for them, and to that end, I hope you have gotten your wish. By now you should also be visiting your mother more often and spending time with family since I know you have finally realized the importance of family. There really is nothing more important in life and it took you much too long to appreciate this simple fact.

Lastly, and I know I’ve rambled on, I know that you have now become a kinder, gentler human being who is known by friends, family and strangers for his generosity and friendliness. You are now helping as many people as you can and you will always have a warm smile for everyone you meet. You are now what you always should have been and anyone that takes a chance on being in your life will be all the better for the experience.

Congratulations, Danny! You’ve finally grown up and taken responsibility for your actions and how you live your life affects others. Now – and better late than never – the world is a better place because you are a part of it.

Awareness Categorization [Giampa]

Using your letter as a guide, make a list of at least 15 to 45 adjectives, nouns, phrases and ideas that describe you in the three categories previously mentioned:

  1. Personal – the persisting entities particular to a given individual.
  2. Inter-personal – strong, deep, or close association/acquaintance between two or more people who may range in duration from brief to enduring.
  3. Sociocultural – immediate physical and social setting in which people live or in which something happens or develops. It includes the culture in which that individual was educated or lives, and the people and institutions with whom they interact.

Then choose the top 3 to 9 words, phrases or ideas that resonate with you or describe you.


Funneling Down [Giampa]

The next step in finding your subject, the essence of your design, is to identify the most important words, phrases and idea’s that made it into your three categories. Pick one from each classification or, if none of the listed items in a certain group stand out to you, choose a total of three words that mean the most to you, reflect you or jump out as your greatest significant ideas. Place these three words in their own bubbles.

Funneling Down

Now, simply choose the word that stands out above the other two and place it in a fourth bubble. Congratulations! You’ve just funneled down your ideas to a “nugget of truth”. This will be the basis of the following steps of this assignment which will continue its development resulting in your preliminary image you’ll be joining with your peers in the connectivity project.

Funneling Up [Giampa]

After your ideas are funneled down to a point, the “nugget” gets expanded upon. This is the funneling up process and consists of a series of questions based on the five senses. Once this sensory map is completed, you will be able to find your visual metaphor within the group of words produced from this exercise.

There are two ways of looking at your newly discovered subject and they are explored by looking at this idea from both the left and right side of your brain. In other words, “To Be” or “Not To Be”; to become or not to become. By utilizing the left side of your brain you will observe the idea from the outside in an analytical and objective fashion; alternatively, when you become the idea and employ an emotional, intuitive and subjective perspective, you are using the right side of your brain.

Left & Right Brain

Begin with the “Not To Be” questions and analyze your idea, your subject. Observe it and describe it. To answer the “To Be” questions, close your eyes and experience the sensations as you empathize with your idea and become your subject.

Healing Sensory Map [Giampa]

Dan’s Healing is fragile. It is delicate and brittle. It must be handled with care or the frail process will shatter and begin again. It has a distasteful aroma, a fragrance of pain and loss but beneath is a sweet, new beginning. The mixture creates a nauseating, honeyed bouquet that only time will amend as the stagnate stench of agony is replaced with the fresh breeze of forgiveness. Dan’s Healing is a bitter pill to swallow, a constant effort to chew and digest. The process can be neither quick nor easy and every bite of selfishness must be crushed, every drop of pride must be swallowed, before the healing can taste pleasant and the nectar of happiness can be relished once again. It sounds like a whimpering child and it grates upon the soul, but ever so slowly, the sobbing and groaning morph into a strong, resilient voice that will someday lead others through the darkness of pain into the light of grace. Dan’s Healing is sensitive and profound. It must be respected and cherished for the path is long and hard but the implications are great and humbling. It begins as a tender, raw, exposed wound but will grow into an affectionate, durable, everlasting strength that can and will be shared with anyone willing to journey along the long road of recovery to acceptance and peace.

Sensory Map Summary

I am Dan’s Healing. I see darkness all around me. I am afraid and alone but I am also determined to find my way to the light and goodness within him. I smell decay all around me. The pain he has caused others penetrates my nostrils and assaults me at every turn but as he accepts his wrong doings, as he admits his place in the world to date and consciously decides to change, I can feel the reek lift, little by little, until a hint of sweet growth, a bit of fragrant hope exists and one day the decay will be no more. I taste the poison within his life, the self-inflicted hurt, the sabotage to his happiness that has been created by him and him alone. As I expel this poison from his soul and cleanse his palate, the beauty of life and love will once again grace his appetite. I can hear regret all around me. It saturates the air he breathes and encompasses every sound that meets his ears. It embodies the voices within his head but I also hear his acceptance, he has taken responsibility for his actions and his words and his place in this world and as he moves forward upon a new path of peace and love the regret will not hold him back or stand in his way, but rather give him strength to share that love and peace with a well-deserving world. I am Dan’s Healing and I can feel the forgiveness. Forgiveness for others, offered to those who have hurt him, freely and without obligation. Most importantly, forgiveness for himself, for the him he used to be, for the him he vows to never be again. I am Dan’s Healing and I will never leave him, I will never falter and I will save him.Visual Metaphor

To complete the final steps toward your visual metaphor, the above sensory summary words are included into two overlapping bubbles to combine the left and right side of the brain into one, singular, comprehensive idea that will become your project’s subject.

Visual Metaphor

Sometimes, after the combination occurs, a clear idea does not present itself in a tangible, concrete subject that is easily depicted visually. To avoid this situation, nouns and adjectives are the best sensory words to utilize during the mapping stages; however, a group discussion about how your classmates perceive you and your sensory summary may produce very interesting results.

Visual Metaphor Interpretations

After reviewing these suggestions, along with the thought of a fragile, broken heart made of glass – shattered but bonded back together – the idea of a Mosaic Tome was decided upon.

Group Planning

Once a design is decided upon, a brief discussion with your classmates is needed to plan your intended connection between the projects. After your individual projects are almost completed, you will reconvene to combine your projects into one final composition.

Danny & the Veronicas

By combining three design ideas without actually starting the individual designs, we came up with the preliminary concept of joining the Mosaic Tome with Cotton Flowers and Balloon Wave. To begin, some initial concepts were discussed about composition drafts and how they might be merged.

Preliminary ConceptComposition Draft

Individual Design

To begin the Mosaic Tome piece, I first sketched the initial book on a pedestal concept on notebook paper during the group discussion. Later, I reproduced the idea in my sketchbook with a little more detail. Both sketches included a pedestal, book and shattered glass; however, in the second rough, the heart within the book transformed from a literal heart on the books pages to a symbolic heart hovering above the tome. In the second version, an arch of vines was added along with a cobblestone walkway and the type of pedestal was changed.

Sketch OneSketch Two

The pedestal, book and heart were then sketched to a size appropriate for the final design. Combined with a shattered glass image, the entire effect was transferred to tracing paper. By adjusting the placement of each shard of glass and the image contained within, the transferred segments produce the effect of the tome, heart and pedestal being viewed through the broken slivers while movement is simultaneously produced by creating the illusion that the image may still be in the process of shattering.

Pedestal Book & HeartShattered Transfer

Next, an arch of vines was added as a foreground element and each of the original four vines was slightly defined to prepare for the inclusion of the Cotton Flowers design that would merge from the left border and eventually scatter throughout the vines, diminishing in quantity until only a couple culminated on the right side of the arch.

Transferred SegmentsArch of Vines
Defining VinesVines

The cobblestone path was added to increase the sense of depth and divide the background and foreground areas of the composition. The shards of broken glass were then defined, the heart shaded and given dimensionality and definition was added to the pedestal, tome and cobblestones.

Cobblestone PathDefining Shards
ShadingCobblestone Dimensionality

The bottom cobblestones were left unfinished purposely to allow the Balloon Wave composition to morph between the designs. Lastly, kneaded and white erasers were utilized to clean up the edges, shards of glass and between the cobblestones. A tortillon, or blending stump, was used to smudge the areas behind the glass where there were no additional objects to intensify the contrast between areas.

Smudging & BlendingCleaned Up
Mosaic Tome

Group Assembly

Once the three compositions were brought together, the connectivity could begin. From the bottom-left of Mosaic Tome, the cobblestones were intended to morph into balloons existing in the top-right of Balloon Wave. From the top-left of Balloon Wave, the balloons were envisioned to morph into flowers prevalent within Cotton Flowers. From the right border of Cotton Flowers, said flowers were proposed to intertwine into the vines of Mosaic Tome.

Some preliminary sketches had been produced to visualize the basic idea developed by the group discussion on the connectivity aspect of the project.

Cotton Flowers SketchMosaic Tome Sketch
Balloon Wave Sketch

After beginning our initial plan of connecting the images as described above, Dr. Giampa was concerned with our lack of interconnection, both within our images and, perhaps more importantly, within our theme. By taking a step back and examining our original composition proposal and then taking a further stride within our project to determine our philosophical, emotional connection, we discovered that there were many levels of personality present. While our intention had been to depict friendship and the ability for different people with diverse ideas and varied interests to develop a bond that transcends commonalities and grows based on mutual respect and kindness, what we discovered went much deeper. Balloon Wave reflected a celebration of life and acceptance of ones innate personality traits and grounded the piece with strong, bold images; Cotton Flowers depicted a person’s contentedness, joy and happiness in a carefree, light and airy feel – free from overwhelming detail and complexity; alternatively, Mosaic Tome brought the work a darker depth by portraying the fragile emotions buried within the human heart while simultaneously representing our natural instinct to survive, heal and even thrive under tremendous stress and through horrendous trials. Instead of signifying how different people can become friends, the overall composition revealed that all of those traits lived within all of us and that fact alone may be why friendship and love is able to exist under any circumstances.

By consciously letting go of our individuality and allowing each other to dive into each separate image, we combined and connected and developed each other’s designs into a singular, comprehensive and complimentary composition.

Depth of Soul
Depth of Soul

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Visual Metaphor Mapping courtesy of Giampa, J. (2012). 
A conceptual tool for mapping visual metaphor.  (Doctoral dissertation).



The bio-toy project was designed to allow a student to create a three-dimensional work of art based on the limited impressions of another student’s autobiography.

The toy should not be bought. Any safe materials may be used to create the toy and resources or small objects may be purchased to complete the design. Creativity is highly encouraged.

Each student’s autobiography will be written in class, within a short, 15 to 20 minute time-frame. The statement should be two or three paragraphs, including some background information, likes and dislikes and future plans of desired places to go or things to do.


There’s a wolf spider living in the corner of my house. Whenever I draw near, she scuttles into the cracks of the siding and waits until I’m gone. I think we tend to get along well, if only because we have some things in common. Wolf spiders are the shyest of their species – they dislike being around others and will often escape quickly when approached. It’s like they have a social phobia. Oh, I’m familiar with that, more than I’d like to be. Spiders are wonderful creatures and I love them. I’ve often adored many things that others tend to fear. I sometimes consider myself a spider. Crafting an intricate web of a strong façade, a mask, and lying in wait, hiding in the corners, hoping a nice little fly may come to pay me a visit.

Of course, unlike the spider, I won’t wrap you up and save you for dinner.

Inspiration & Research

This autobiography instantly brought to mind a mask, both metaphorical and literal. I was torn between a couple of options for creating a mask of which my recipient could hide behind, remove or even a little of both. If I included a full mask with a securing band it may suggest that wearing the mask was preferable to facing your fears. A half-mask was strongly considered as its properties of only concealing a portion of the wearer’s face could suggest a partial hiding away or merely hiding from some fears, while facing others. I chose a full mask with no binding ties to indicate that, when needed, the mask could be worn for safety or avoidance but only temporarily. This mask would need to be consciously worn and would take effort, hopefully encouraging the wearer to wear it less as fears were faced and trials overcome. It would always be available, however, on those occasions when everything seemed too much and a shelter was required. With any luck, one day the mask would hang on a wall and be a gentle reminder of the strength the recipient would eventually find by both wearing the mask and, more importantly, removing it.

Obviously, the mask needed to resemble a wolf spider and there are many versions: some ugly and scary, some cute and fuzzy, some seem large and menacing while others are small and unassuming. I chose to go with soft and cuddly selection, even if no one would truly want to embrace a spider, a stuffed animal version came to mind. I gathered a few pictures of the variety I was interested in replicating from a couple of angles to visualize some aspects of the spider I wanted to incorporate into my design: legs, eyes, pelt, etc.

Wolf Spider 1Wolf Spider 2
Wolf Spider 3Wolf Spider 4

Creation Process

SuppliesI began by gathering supplies. I already owned some pipe-cleaners and pom-poms and a flimsy mask template but I knew I needed quite a few more things to complete the project. While browsing a craft store for additional materials, I ran across a perfect sample of fur in the fabric department and nearby I acquired a sturdy, hardier mask of paper-mâché. I knew I’d like to find a material to cover the eyes of the mask that was still transparent enough to see through so the mask would be functional, even though it was being designed as a decorative item. I searched for a stretchy, nylon material but was unsuccessful in finding something appropriate; but as I looked, I found a string of beads that would suite nicely for the eyes of the spider. A quick trip to a nearby fabric store presented me with a thin, mesh material that I felt could be layered until it was dark enough to provide the desired effect.

Mesh MaterialFirst, I needed to cover the mask with several layers of the mesh material to ensure the eye socket effect was produced. I cut my fabric into four equal squares, appropriately sized to encompass the entire surface of the mask. Next, I used rubber cement to affix each layer tightly across the eyes and pulled taut from the forehead to the chin.


Layer 1Layer 2
Layer 3
Layer 4

The legs were my next challenge. I wanted them to be flexible and pliable but they also needed to compliment the design and form of my project. To accomplish this feat, I combined four pipe-cleaners in a twisting fashion for each leg and then covered each leg in the pelt of fur I planned on utilizing for the majority of the face. I used rubber cement to fasten the pelt around the pipe-cleaners and secured them with binder clips until they dried, at which time I cut the excess material from each spider leg.

Pipe Cleaner LegsPelt Cover

Spider Eyes


I attached the eyes to the mask before any additional material was added. Trying rubber cement and fabric glue didn’t effectively fasten the beads permanently to the mesh material so super glue was needed to finally secure the spider’s eyes. Four large beads were used to mimic the images of the spiders I had selected, one pair near the mask’s eye sockets and another pair higher on the head. Four smaller eyes were added, two under each eye socket, to complete the effect.


Final ConstructionThe last stage of construction required covering the majority of the face of the mask with fur while simultaneously, attaching the legs to the outer edges of the piece. I added patches of the pelt, carefully trimmed to fit around the eyes, down the center of the mask. Each leg was attached to the sides of the mask by cutting a slit in the material with an X-acto knife, running the end of the pipe-cleaners through the hole and gluing the opened ends on the inside of the mask. A black pom-pom was added to each leg, effectively capping the leg and providing a simulated foot. The remaining exposed areas of the mask were subsequently covered with pelt as appropriate. Two brown pom-poms were included near the mouth area to resemble mandibles. As a final, compositional effect, the legs were adjusted into appropriate positions.

Wolf Spider Mask
Wolf Spider Mask

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Behind the Mask

She hid her face and turned away
A timid grin and gentle blush
Belied the strength behind her gaze
And power in her tender touch

She veiled her heart and built her walls
Of solitude and privacy
But deep within her secret lair
Longed a beast of dynasty

Her gates stood tall, her fences strong
A guise of faintness worn with pride
Controlling dread thru dominance
Negating what she’d cast aside

Her fear unfounded left me cold
I wondered but I dared not ask
Of beauty she refused to see
Concealed so far behind the mask

Then I saw plainly what she veiled
A smile shielding darker pain
A laugh, a shrug, a careful glance
I knew it well, it knew my name

The walls of shielding built by hands
Who hurt and bleed and scarred from years
Of giving, loving, taking naught
But disdain and forgotten tears

Her fright familiar, left me cold
Still I wondered but could not ask
Of beauty she refused to show
Concealed so far behind the mask

I viewed her mirror and what I saw
Was bold and true, divine and grave
Fierce and daring, gracious, strong
Loving, epic, pretty, brave

While I looked on, it warmed my soul
There was no longer need to ask
Of beauty she could never hide
Revealed from far behind a mask

Behind the Mask

She hid her face and turned away
A timid grin and gentle blush
Belied the strength behind her gaze
And power in her tender touch

She veiled her heart and built her walls
Of solitude and privacy
But deep within her secret lair
Longed a beast of dynasty

Her gates stood tall, her fences strong
A guise of faintness worn with pride
Controlling dread thru dominance
Negating what she’d cast aside

Her fear unfounded left me cold
I wondered but I dared not ask
Of beauty she refused to see
Concealed so far behind the mask

Then I saw plainly what she veiled
A smile shielding darker pain
A laugh, a shrug, a careful glance
I knew it well, it knew my name

The walls of shielding built by hands
Who hurt and bleed and scarred from years
Of giving, loving, taking naught
But disdain and forgotten tears

Her fright familiar, left me cold
Still I wondered but could not ask
Of beauty she refused to show
Concealed so far behind the mask

I viewed her mirror and what I saw
Was bold and true, divine and grave
Fierce and daring, gracious, strong
Loving, epic, pretty, brave

While I looked on, it warmed my soul
There was no longer need to ask
Of beauty she could never hide
Revealed from far behind a mask

© Daniel E. Barndt ~2013

Figure & Ground


The Figure/Ground assignment is designed to better understand how the former relates to the latter while utilizing variety, harmony and unity.

By selecting one sketch from the Symbol Grid project, a series of abstracted images will be created that will reflect similar design traits while completing an overall design in a grid pattern.

The relationship between the figure and the ground refers to a viewer’s ability to distinguish an object from its general surroundings. Comparisons between figure and ground share the following generalities:

  • Ground is usually larger and simpler than figure
  • Figure usually appears on top of or in front of ground
  • Convex shapes tend to be figures and concave shapes tend to be ground
  • Unbroken shapes tend to become figures and segmented shapes tend to become ground
  • Figures are considered dominate
  • Darker colors tend to form figures
  • Figure and ground of the same shape become ambiguous
  • Strong figure/ground relationships exude simplicity
  • Weak figure/ground relationships convey ambiguity

The final composition will fill a 12”x12” grid, divided by 4” squares in three rows and three columns centered within a 3” border on Bristol board. Tools needed include a ruler, a soft pencil, an X-acto knife, various erasers and permanent markers.

PreparationSymbol Grid

My first step in this project was to decide upon one of the twenty-three symbols from the Symbol Grid assignment to abstract into nine different images. After careful consideration, I choose my icon for transparency.


Next, I sketched several preliminary design concepts for the final figure/ground composition. My plan was to use the inherent created shapes within the cubed design to generate non-figurative contours without deviating from the original object.

Preliminary Design ConceptsQuantified Segments

Draft VizualizationAfter producing a series of acceptable shapes based on my transparent cube, I wanted to ensure I was evenly distributing the preëxisting components into my new forms. To accomplish this task, I numbered each segmented shape and quantified them, in turn, resulting in seven distinct parts of my cube. This method afforded me with the knowledge that I had initially used an in proportionate amount of my seventh portion and too few of my second and third. By modifying a couple of shapes, I easily rectified the inaccuracy.

The last step in my preparation was to organize my new forms into appropriate and complimentary locations within the predetermined grid formation. I then quickly sketched a draft to visualize the final layout.


To prepare my Bristol board, I measured the exterior dimensions and marked a one inch section to remove from the horizontal edge and a six-inch section from the vertical, resulting in a perfectly square surface to divide into my composition’s grid of 4” squares. By including three rows and three columns, the final design would equal twelve inches squared.

I then removed the pencil marks from the 3” border of my grid with a kneaded eraser and cut the previously marked excess material from the sides of my Bristol board.

Preparing Bristol BoardCleaning BordersTrimming Edges

To ensure I would have a size-appropriate original image from which to produce accurate transfers, I recreated my transparency cube within a 4”x4” square in my sketchbook. Using tracing paper, I transferred exact replications of my pre-planned forms based on the specifically combined segments of my transparency cube.

4x4 inch CubeTracing TransferCube Segments

Inking Figures & GroundsTo finalize my composition, I outlined each new form with a permanent marker, taped off the negative areas and filled in the figure with permanent marker. In every other square of my grid, I reversed the method to tape off the positive space and filled in the ground with permanent marker. In each case, the figure stood out from the ground as a smaller, more detailed shape appearing on top of the ground.

On a side note, every new form is created, not only exactly from the original shape, but in the exact position within its respective square in which it would reside if the complete cube were recreated, in whole.

Case In Point

Chapter eight of Art Fundamentals: Theory and Practice by Ocvirk, Stinson, Wigg, Bone and Cayton dove into many aspects of Space, beginning with spatial perception and the major types of space. Spatial indicators, spatial properties of elements and structured ambiguity were also covered in great detail. The chapter rounded out with three-dimensional applications of space.

Case: Space – Near & Far

Space can be actual or illusionary and refers to the interval, or measurable distance, between points or images. When images are created with a singular point of view they are said to be presented in a two-dimensional format; however, in physical works of art, when actual space exists and is treated as an element, the three-dimensionality is more than an illusion or manufactured point of view.

There are two major types of space: decorative and plastic. Decorative space has a height and width but very little depth; in contrast, plastic space refers to the environment in which objects appear. There are two sub-categories of plastic space and deep, infinite space. Shallow space limits the viewer’s penetration into the pictorial space but deep and infinite space creates a spatial perception that extends well beyond the immediate pictorial surface and contains atmospheric perspective.

There are many spatial indicators to represent space and our comprehension to its depth: detail – both sharp and diminishing, size, position, overlapping, transparency, interpenetration, fractional representation, converging parallels, linear parallels and intuitive space.

Elements have spatial properties and the variations are endless but some of the basics include how space relates to line, shape, value, texture and color.

Structured ambiguity refers to space generated by elements and shapes that are vague and appear to fluctuate between being positive, or figures, and negative, or grounds.

Low relief, or bas-relief, sculptures have spatial limitations; whereas, installations, or architectural settings, beckon the viewer to see the artwork from all angles. These are both examples of three-dimensional applications of space. Four-dimensional space integrates time and motion into the experience of a work of art.

In Point

As chapter eight was expansive, Dr. Giampa required five bullet points be developed and I chose to utilize her empathy method to explore the unique characteristics of the types of space, spatial indicators, elemental spatial properties, structured ambiguity and three-dimensional space.

Types of Space

I’m space. Sometimes I’m very shallow and decorative and become flat and contain little depth but other times I seem much more three-dimensional and am considered plastic. When I feel like showing this deeper side of my personality I don’t always show it all at once. I can reveal just a little depth and limit your view into my pictorial space. When I do this I am showing my shallowness and can be compared to a stage with sides and a back wall. If I’m feeling even more generous with my depth, I may become deep or even infinite, letting you see far into an illusionary distance, far beyond my pictorial plane.

Spatial Indicators

My spatial indicators are many and varied. If I want you to see things that appear close to you I make their detail extremely sharp, or I can make them blurry and obscure their details creating the illusion that they are farther away from you. I can also use size to indicate an objects closeness or distance. The smaller the object, the further away it seems; alternatively, the larger an object, the closer you may think it is. If I show you a point of reference, such as a horizon line, and then position objects accordingly, I can provide you with the illusion of my depth based on your real world experiences. I can also overlap objects, obscuring parts of the objects that seem to behind another and I might even use transparency, when you seem to be seeing an object through a closer item, to create various illusions of distance. If you need more help establishing a sense of depth, I can utilize interpenetration, where two objects pass through each other, to produce either an illusion of how shallow or deep I may want to appear. I’ve also been known to do some strange things with fraction representation, in which I combine several spatial aspects in one object or scene. If I use converging parallels to indicate my properties, I angle away from you and one pair of my parallel lines appear to eventually meet. I can also use linear perspective in which I utilize imaginary sight-lines, called guidelines, and extend to a vanishing point, normally at eye level along the horizon line. Below this line there is a ground plane and above it resides a sky plane. The angle from which you view me is considered your location point and is indicated by an imaginary vertical line.

Elemental Spatial Properties

I have many relationships with the elements of design and when I interact with line, or vice versa, movement is implied either toward you, the viewer, or away from you. The types of lines utilized within a composition can also change your perception of me. I work similarly with shapes and how they relate to each other and the environment in which they exist. Value is also an important controlling element for creating illusions of my depth. Light and shadow from the real world are every day experiences, so replicating these values within a pictorial surface will result in similar foreground/background relationships. If I contain sharp, clear or bold textures they may seem to advance while fuzzy, dull and minuscule textures seem to recede. Likewise, contrasting colors can create an illusion of closeness or distance based on warmth, coolness and analogous intensity and hues.

Structured Ambiguity

If I become vague or unreadable or the objects within me cannot be determined as figures or ground, I am considered ambiguous and uncertain, or structured ambiguity. Usually, this is an undesirable state and is caused by equivalency where too many elements are so similar there is little or no contrast. To avoid this, size of objects should be varied, the types of values should contrast appropriately, shape types should not all equal each other and a variety of texture, colors and intensities should define positive and negative areas.

Three-dimensional Space

I am an illusion in pictorial art; however, in the three-dimensional arts, I actually exist and must be treated as an element. I can be restricted in a linear, decorative manner or represented with great spatial independence. An example of each could be bas-relief sculptures and architectural installations, respectively. If you add time and motion into a work of art I become four-dimensional and evolve as the viewer experiences a design of this type.

Final Composition

Transparent Cube
Transparent Cube

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Case In Point Mapping based on research by
Dr. Joan Giampa

Texture Rubbing


The Texture Rubbing project is designed to learn and understand more about different textures and how they might make a viewer describe them by how they visually “feel”.

The final composition will fill a 12”x12” grid, divided by 3” squares in four rows and four columns centered within a 3” border on sketch/drawing paper. Other tools needed include a ruler, a soft pencil, various erasers and a graphite pencil.

Rubbings are produced by placing the paper on top of a textured surface and gently rubbing the graphite pencil across the paper, thus allowing the texture below to transfer its pattern to the paper. Each rubbing must fill as much of the appropriate square as possible and only one texture should be used in each square. Each square should also be filled from a unique texture source.

To complete the project, assign an adjective to each texture square and include it as a compositional element.


I began preparing my sketch paper by measuring an 18”x18” surface area and dividing the square into sixteen 3” squares using my ruler and a soft pencil. Next, I went on a texture scavenger hunt.

ConcreteAsphaltTree BarkRoot
MulchLandscape TimberManhole CoverFence Panel
Wicker ChairTire TreadWrought Iron SeatSewer Pipe
Brick WallBolderWooden GrateTile

Rough Draft

Rough DraftAs I found each texture I was interested in, I took an initial rubbing with a 6B graphite pencil. I did this for two reasons: first, I wanted to make sure the surface I thought would produce a nice transfer actually produced a unique effect. In some cases I found the surface didn’t stand out or even transfer so I moved on. My second reason for the rough draft was to visual organize the patterns in my mind before deciding where within my grid I’d like the final rubbing to exist.

Texture Design

Once I decided which textures I wanted to use in my final design, I had to take the sheet with my prepared grid to each texture source and get a new rubbing. For this I used a harder HB graphite pencil than previously utilized. I found that the soft 6B pencil left too much graphite on the page to distinguish between the texture underneath and the normal graphite rubbed on the paper.

Texture Collection

Collection Process

As I took each rubbing, it was necessary to erase some overlap from square to square to ensure the adjacent textures were properly displayed. Since most of my textures were outside, I took my grid sheet, a kneaded rubber eraser and my graphite pencil with me on my second texture journey. When I returned to the house, I used a mars plastic eraser to clean the edges and some harder to remove marks from my design and its frame.

Clean Up


The next step in the texture project was to describe each texture with an appropriate adjective. To accomplish this, I blew up a picture of the final texture rubbings and considered many types of adjectives such as tastes and tactile adjectives, appearance adjectives, positive and negative sensation adjectives and shape, size and sound adjectives. I chose the most appropriate for each texture pattern I had collected but did not stick to the predictable tactile descriptions. I purposefully ignored the source of each rubbing and focused purely on the design created by the transfer.

Descriptive Adjectives


After deciding on descriptions and a font that would complement my design, I needed to transfer the text to the composition. To accomplish this I used the simple tracing paper method. By printing my labels the appropriate size to fit my work, I simply traced the positive image of each, reversed my trace on the negative image and then transferred the descriptive text to my graphite rubbing. I later darkened each adjective with a permanent marker.

Positive Labels Negative Labels Label Transfers


One of the last steps was to trim the excess paper from the final composition and clean the edges and frame of the design with my kneaded and plastic erasers.

TrimmingLabel Contrast
While I thought this version was pretty close to complete, as I reviewed the overall design I wanted more contrast between the descriptions and the rubbings. I first thought about purchasing a white marker to accent the dark, black text but decided instead to lighten the area directly behind each label with a kneaded eraser, thus allowing the descriptive adjective to stand out from each pattern.

Feeling Feelings

Case In Point

Chapter Six of Art Fundamentals: Theory and Practice by Ocvirk, Stinson, Wigg, Bone and Cayton focused on Texture. The nature of texture was broached in this chapter along with types of texture, patterns, composition and space as related to texture. Its expressive content and some three-dimensional applications of texture rounded out the chapter.

Case: Texture and its Types

Experiencing texture can be subconscious or obvious, inviting or repellent, visual or physical. When texture is more than an illusion it is considered tactile. There are several types of textures: actual, simulated, abstract and invented. Actual texture is a tangible, concrete, physical texture. Some examples of actual textures include thick uses of paint, enhanced by the quality of the paint utilized, and papier collé, the origin of the modern collage, which makes use of actual objects within a planer design. Simulated texture looks real but is an illusion. Many genre paintings of the Dutch and Flemish produced amazing effects often associated with trompe l’oeil paintings so convincing in their detail they could be mistaken for the real thing. Modified textures that display a hint of an original texture are known as abstract textures whereas invented textures are without precedent; in other words, these textures do not simulate nor abstract from reality, they are created from the artist’s imagination. Patterns are often derived from textures and decorative in purpose. Textures can provide movement within a composition and manipulate space by appearing blurred or sharp depending on the artists’ intent. The lines between two-dimensional and three-dimensional art blurs even more as texture building becomes assemblage where the artist constructs large, protruding objects – either free-standing or hanging – and mixes surface textures with the assembled objects’ textures.

In Point

Focusing on the four texture types as my bullet points allowed me to utilize Dr. Giampa’s personification method to explore the unique characteristics of each type and how they could be perceived by a viewer.

Actual Texture

As an actual texture you can consider me the “real thing”! I can be inherently found in natural materials, although I may be manipulated from my natural form. I change the surface of planer designs when an artist builds their materials upon that surface, subtly or obviously.  Papier collé is one way to accomplish such a collage effect of objects within a design, thus offering my viewer’s many different tactile experiences.

Simulated Texture

When I merely create an illusion of a texture I’m described as a simulated texture. A talented and skilled artist can make such an illusion so real the viewer feels compelled to reach out and touch me. Trompe l’oeil paintings are perfect examples of my ability to fool the eye with photographic detail. Although I may look like I contain tangible textures, you can trust me when I tell you I’m lying.

Abstract Texture

Sometimes I simply hint at another texture and in these cases I’m considered an abstract texture.  Normally, I become a simplified version of the original texture and I often emphasize patterns and designs. I am usually used decoratively to accent or diminish areas of the composition as well as control eye movement. I’m just here to compliment other areas of a design, or even tame dominant features, to improve the balance or focus of a composition.

Invented Texture

I can also be an interesting invented texture that is without precedent! At these times I’m neither simulated nor do I abstract from reality. As an invented texture my main purpose is sometimes to surprise or shock my viewers and I share similar decorative and compositional tasks just like when I’m an abstract texture. Be careful when using me in this manner because I should not distract the viewer from the true purpose of the design. The subject and meaning of a work can be lost in the swirl and excitement of imaginative and unique textures like me!


For curiosities sake, I’ve included a graph describing which source textures produced which patterns.


View/Download PDF

Case In Point Mapping based on research by
Dr. Joan Giampa

Value & Intensity

Value Scale

The first step to the Value and Intensity project was to create an 11 step value scale, from pure white to pure black, with even incremental shades of gray in-between. Each value would occupy a 2”x2” square with a 1” border around the entire scale resulting in a 24”x4” composition on Bristol board. Acrylic paint, brushes, painters tape and an X-acto knife would be needed to complete the assignment.


To visualize my process, I charted the percentages of black and white paint I would need to produce each value square. Obviously, Value 1 would be 100% white and Value 11 would be 100% black, so no mixing would be required for these two squares. Value 6 would be exactly 50% black and 50% white, resulting in a perfect mid-tone gray (in relation to the acrylic paint utilized).

Value Percentages

Just for trivia’s sake, I included the RGB and hexadecimal color values. CMYK would only vary in its K, or black key plate. For example: White = 0, Gray = 50 and Black = 100. They are also referenced by percentage.

I started my surface preparation by cutting my Bristol board to size.  I taped off the vertical sides first, to ensure the sides of each value square would line up evenly when all the squares were completed. Next, I taped off the top square for Value 1, the bottom square for Value 11 and the middle square for Value 6.

Cutting Bristol Board Blank Slate Taped Off Squares

I wanted to come up with a reproducible method of mixing my paint that could be easily recreated, quickly and efficiently. To this end, I experimented with a couple different approaches: first, I tried adding drops of paint based on the percentage of gray I wanted to create. Unsure if this would generate a consistent value each time, I tried a second technique by measuring an exact amount of paint using measuring utensils. This attempt took much longer, was unreliable to be precise and resulted in an almost identical shade that my first method produced. After trying different attempts of more accurate measuring, I returned to my original approach. I knew that a common method was to mix black into white until a visually acceptable shade could be reached but I was unhappy with the inconsistency such a system would form.

Painting Value Squares

To mix my first shade of grey, Value 6 – 50% white, 50% black –  I added 5 similar drops of white paint and 5 drops of black paint to my palette. I continued this pattern for Values 4 and 8 and Values 2 and 10.

50% Paint MixValue 6Values 4 and 8

   Values 2 and 10 Value 3 and 9 Values 5 and 7

By allowing these squares to dry, I could move the tape and continue my process with Value 3 and 9, leaving only Values 5 and 7 to complete the value scale.

I had to use a hairdryer to speed up the drying process to allow me to tape off the last two squares. After finishing Value 4 and 8, I double checked each square by removing the horizontal tape one strip at a time, ensuring each square was touching and even. Any discrepancies required remixing the value needed – which was easy due to my drop-method – and fixing the errors found. A kneaded eraser and gum eraser were both used to remove guide lines and measurement marks. An X-acto knife was also utilized to scratch off a few random paint spots that mistakenly crossed their taped-off areas.

Value Scale

Case In Point

Chapter Five of Art Fundamentals: Theory and Practice by Ocvirk, Stinson, Wigg, Bone and Cayton was dedicated to Value. Some relationships of value were covered in this chapter along with art media, techniques of plastic value, decorative value and patterns within compositions. Three-dimensional applications of value were also addressed.

Case: Value – dark to light (and back again)

An area’s relative lightness and darkness is referred to as its value and achromatic values consist of black, white and the limitless degrees of gray between. Alternatively, the same scale applied to color is known as chromatic values. The darker end of these scales is referred to as low-key values and the lighter end contains high-key values.

Highlights include the portion of an object that, from the viewer’s point of view, receives the greatest amount of light while shadows are the darker values on the surface of an object that suggest that a portion of it is turned away from or obscured by the source of light. Without additional lighting, an object’s surface has a natural local value. Plastic values create the appearance of depth and Cast Shadows are dark areas that occur when another shape is placed between a light source and an object or surface.

Chiaroscuro is the technique of gradually blending contrasting lights and darks to develop an illusion of mass. By extremely exaggerating this technique, tenebrism is created. This great contrast is utilized for emphasis and indicating importance.

The illusion of limited depth known as Shallow Space and decorative values, which stress the essential flatness of a surface, both ignore conventional light. Conversely, organized areas of light and dark create value patterns which can be readily recognized in closed-value compositions where values are contained within the contours of defined shapes. On the other hand, open-value compositions allow values to cross over shape boundaries. The area between the contours of an object as defined by a contrast of value is a shape’s silhouette.

In Point

Becoming value to cover three bullets of interest provided insight into the effect that value has upon shapes, elements and the patterns created within compositions.


I have many moods, and at my most placid I might even be considered boring; but fret not, I wear many accessories that will keep your attention. My highlights can draw your eye toward important elements by illumination, both direct and indirect, while my shadows beckon you to explore unknown depths within my darkest corners. While my local value is often accented, if I lighten my humor, I’m considered “high-key”. This could suggest that I’m excited but normally it merely means I’m a bit happier: bright and optimistic; however, if you see me in my “low-key” state, you might want to look more closely. I might be hard to see but it’s easy to tell my temperament may have turned dark and mysterious and even depressed. Don’t get comfortable! I can shift these relationships quickly with alterations to my composition.


If I feel structured and defined, I’m known as a closed-value, which basically means my values are contained within the contours of my shapes, each distinct and separate; conversely, when I’m labeled as an open-value, my values (and often colors) cross shapes and areas to abstractly combine normally isolated elements. Additional means of elemental distinction is needed in these situations. In either case, I produce patterns by organizing my areas of light and dark and many times my silhouette is easily recognizable.


Some techniques worth mentioning have been developed to deal with my boundless degrees of subtlety – some less subtle than others. Chiaroscuro makes use of the ability to gradually blend my contrasting darks and lights to develop an illusion of solidity. This is very helpful when I occupy the two-dimensional world. Before this technique was common, most of my values would have been considered decorative, stressing the essential flatness of my surfaces, or merely utilizing shallow space, which only took advantage of producing an illusion of limited depth – moving only slightly away from the picture plane. Tenebrism, in extreme contrast, exaggerates my contrasting highlights and shadows to emphasis elements within a composition. Of course, there are many, many more techniques to consider if you want to tame my unlimited values!

Value Painting

The second step to the Value and Intensity project was to transfer this newly discovered knowledge of values to a design and represent highlights and shadows within a chosen range, or key. The composition would be produced on a 14”x16” Bristol board with a 3” undefined border. Acrylic paint, brushes, tracing paper, a soft pencil and an X-acto knife would be needed to complete the assignment.


For this painting a still life was selected by Dr. Giampa, so the first task was to transfer the image to the final medium. By utilizing tracing paper, I traced the positive image with a number 8B pencil.

Still LifePositive Trace

I started my surface preparation by cutting my Bristol board to size.  I also measured the border and marked it, lightly, with a soft pencil to ensure my design would ultimately be centered within the composition.

Cutting Board to Size Measure Border

Next, I needed to trace the negative image so that it would be transferable as a positive design. By flipping the tracing paper over and tracing the negative lines, the image was ready to be transferred to the prepared Bristol board.

Negative TraceTransfer Image
 Checking Transfer Completed Transfer

Value VisualizationTo visualize my value patterns and determine how many values I would need to represent the image appropriately while still economizing my palette, I decided to color code the design with pastel pencils. I started by identifying highlights with yellow and cast shadows as purple. This method isolated my lightest and darkest areas within the composition. By utilizing the same technique, I was able to ascertain my reflective light (orange) and crest shadows (blue). This left me with a dilemma, because I originally wanted to keep my natural value at one additional shade; however, there were too many adjacent shapes needing a natural value, so I chose a light (green) and dark (red) base value.

Painting Value Still-life

An important aspect of the value painting, regardless of the number of values involved, is the decision to create a low-key or a high-key composition. I chose a low-key value scale for several reasons: I wanted my design to stand out from its naturally occurring border of white; I thought a darker image would contrast with the subject matter, which reminded me of a cheerful, bright kitchen scene; and I wanted to experiment with creating highlights and reflective light within a darker value range.

To complete the preparation phase of my value painting, I assigned percentages to my low-key gray-scale categories. By primarily utilizing the lower end of the value spectrum, I began by allocating my two natural values 50 to 60 percent black. I wanted my shadows to hover near the very end of the scale at 80 and 90 percent black. At the opposite end of my range, I gave the highlights a mere 30 percent black while the reflective light received a 40 percent black value.

One last decision was made, good or bad, to freehand the painting portion of the project instead of blocking off each area or creating stencils. The reason behind this choice was to hopefully produce a more fluid and natural movement within the design.

Natural Values

The first value mixed and applied was the lighter main value meant for areas without significant light or shadow: namely, the 50 percent areas (green). Second, the darker main value was mixed at 60 percent black and applied to the remaining natural areas (red).

50 Percent 60 Percent


The next value added to the composition was primarily mixed as a crest shadow value at 80 percent black and added to the appropriate shapes (blue). Some areas assigned to this shade resided within areas already painted, so I took advantage of the opaque qualities of acrylic paint and painted directly over the spaces necessary. First, the correct shapes needed to be transferred on top to the design in progress. A 90 percent cast shadow value was mixed to be included in the darkest areas (purple) as my last shade to complete the composition.

80 Percent Shadow Transfers

90 Percent Sifter Details Rolling Pin Details


By utilizing the same method, I transferred reflective light outlines to the design and mixed a 40 percent black value for the appropriate areas (orange). The highlights were mixed next at a 30 percent black value and augmented as accents to the lightest areas (yellow) of the design.

Highlight Transfers 40 Percent

30 Percent All Values


The finishing touch was to add the lettering to the butter and sugar packages. I choose to use pure white to compliment the background while simultaneously adding contrast against the global darkness of the composition.

Dark Kitchen

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Case In Point Mapping based on research by
Dr. Joan Giampa