Arts & Activities  

      Color expert Dan Bartges is author of the book, "Color is Everything"
( Visit his website at
      Assignment 8 In A Series Of 10      

Have you considered how marvelously versatile each of the six color schemes really is? This month, we're looking at two examples of a seldom used, yet highly effective color scheme. One painting is a still life, the other a portrait.

Each month, we're exploring how painters like you can attain color harmony in any painting, regardless of medium or subject matter. All you'll need is a standard color wheel, available at any art-supply store.

HOW IT WORKS Each month, study the two featured paintings on this Web page and, with your color wheel, figure out their color schemes. Next, download and print the "Quiz Me!" document, write in your answers to the questions, then hand it in to your art teacher. The correct answers will be made available on next month's Student Page.

      For a quick review of color-scheme basics, click here for an informative article: The Magic Moment.      
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Dan Bartges. Ten Grapes. Oil.

Can't think of anything to paint? Try a cluster of grapes from the refrigerator; they always provide challenges. And once you've finished painting, you can eat them!

A still life like this one might appear simple at first, but it presents surprising complexity because of the interweaving stems, the partially obscured grapes, and especially the reflections and shadows on the shiny surfaces of the grapes. For a painting like this, it's often helpful to do a pencil sketch first to get the construction and patterns straight in your head before picking up a paintbrush.



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Francisco Goya (Spanish; 1746–1828). General Nicolas Philippe Guye, 1810. Oil on canvas; 41.75" x 33.375". Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond. Gift of John Lee Pratt. Photo: Ron Jennings. ©Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

Here's a wonderful example of a master's use of color. As an experiment, cover the blue ribbon below the general's collar with your fingertip. See how the painting instantly loses vitality? True, the famous Spanish artist Francisco Goya (1746–1828) could have left out the color blue, and created a good portrait using an analogous color scheme of yellow-orange, orange and red-orange. (Remember that true black and white are used only for contrast, and don't count in a painting's color scheme.) But Goya's decision to include blue was far superior. What color scheme did he use?

      QUIZ ME!
Click here to download April Quiz Me! document

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