Colored Pencil Homework after Roberta Maas's Color Presentation

We have seen the presentation in Monday and Wednesday classes, but if you missed both let me know. We can ask Roberta for a makeup class! This is fascinating but not easily understood without the accompanying talk.

CMYK 1220_3a
PDF • 11.53MB

Do not worry, if you don't want to move into color, just stay with black and white. I will include instructions for black and white drawing practice also.

This is Christmas. In addition to all its other wonderful features, Christmas is a time of colorful displays. We are going to take a break from more difficult drawing lessons and focus on just using the pencils, whether colored or monochromatic. Have fun and Merry Christmas!

Here is a link to a page full of images you can choose from, all are black line drawings that you can color in. If you want to shade with charcoal or graphite instead of using color, that will also help you. Any time you fiddle around with pencil, paper and images it is practice.

Here is a start. On the left, one of the online coloring book free pages that I started coloring. On the right, these are the colors I've used so far. If there is a color scheme, I can't tell you what it is, I just grabbed the pencils I wanted. Most of these could have been found in a 12 or 18 color box. They are

Mead's Berol Prismacolor (left to right)

  • "true green",

  • "parma violet",

  • "light" Cerulean Blue,

  • Ultramarine, Orange,

  • "limepeel",

  • "deco yellow",

  • Dark Green, (Prismacolor's student grade, called Scholar)

  • Crimson,

  • "poppy red",

  • Violet (Purple), and

Eberhard Faber's Mongol brand

Pink #846. (third from right)

[The names in quotes are made up names that Prismacolor decided to use. Otherwise the names are standard. If you switch brands or batches, these colors might not match. But, they will surely be close enough!]

This is me playing with blending colors. The green leaves are dulled down by using violet (almost opposite green on the color scale because it has so much red in it). The crimson red flower spikes on top are dulled with cerulean, which makes a perfect gray if you need it, but which pretty well took the life out of this flower.

Link to images.

I've also pasted some choices here.

I went to the National Gallery website ( and clicked "search our collection" -- it is in the menu somewhere. Then I just searched on some 19th century artists so that I could be sure to avoid copyright infringement. I picked the paintings based on color scheme, but I realized that everything in the National Gallery that's 2 dimensional has some sort of color scheme, so I could have picked anything.

Let's start with the Degas. Here is my analysis, followed by the larger image.

National Gallery, Degas, 1878-1880, watercolor and pastel on paper, charcoal underneath.

Did Degas do this with complete understanding of the CMYK systems? Or was Degas just this automatically aware? Personally, I think the answer is somewhere between training and loads of experience and just raw talent.

But COULD Degas have been aware? Absolutely. Check this out: I put the picture below in from this page in the Smithsonian Institute's file at the link, just because I like it, but the article talks about Newton (much earlier) and his work with light and color. So, as usual, there's not so much that's new under the sun!

Here's another of my attempts to understand how an artist uses color schemes. This is Mary Cassatt, Woman with a Sunflower, 1905.

National Gallery, Mary Cassatt, Woman with a Sunflower, 1905.

Here is the wheel from Roberta's presentation (or you can just open the presentation, attached to the top of this page):

See what you can do with these paintings! We'll talk about it, of course, so you don't have to actually DO anything! I've plopped Roberta's color wheel in the middle so you can compare.

Frederic Edwin Church, Niagara, 1857

This next one is copyrighted, but the colors are so great I couldn't bear to leave it out. Here's its link: and the picture below is just a small chunk out of the middle. It's called Daybreak - A Time to Rest, 1967, Jacob Lawrence. It's about Harriet Tubman. That should be enough to prompt you to have a look!

The color scheme is very similar to the Frederic Church painting (scroll up) except it heads towards the shade. In other words, it's darker and more intense. You really should look at the whole thing, it's worth it!

And one more, also similar to the Church painting.

Paul Gauguin, Brittany Landscape, 1888.

Believe it or not, this is Paul Gauguin. The color scheme is very similar to the Frederic E. Church painting (scroll up) except it is so much paler. In other words, it heads more towards the tint than the shade on the same color scheme.

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