Colour Theorywritten 14 April 2000 being revised May 2006
This project fits the Visual Arts Objective - Developing Practical Knowledge in the Visual Arts. This is effectively a Level 3-5 activity. Colour is typically the last Visual Arts element to be studied, after Line, Form, Sensation... etc.
Technology - one would expect that this project is pertinent to the Technology Curriculum. It deals with the basic problem of presenting colour using various processes and mediums. The curriculum is rather broad but this exercise would seem to fall into Level 3 and 4 of Technical Knowledge and Understanding. The Level 3 component is to do with the way colour is transferred from one technology to another. And what can happen to it on the way. The Level 4 component explores the different technologies, paint, print and computer screen, and how different colour theories need to be used in different technologies. At the same time, the ways that the computer components are connected can also be studied. For instance why scanners and printers have big connection plugs. Also the different formats for storing images.
Mathematics - Colour has not figured in the Math's curriculum because up till now there has been no easy way to empirically measure it. Plotting graphs of the colour mixing and their computer RGB values fits into Level 3 Statistics. The 3-D unit model of colour is the key example of its kind in the real world.
Health and P.E. - This curriculum focuses on overt activity and fails to mention aspects of perception in relation to Physical Education, such as how eyes and ears work, how to protect them, kinds of defects they may have or develop. The effects of tiredness or illness on perception is also omitted. Since pubertal change is covered in level 4, this material should probably be covered in Level 2 or 3.
Overall the two major factors determining when this project is done is the Mathematics graph component and the availability of a scanner for class use, not to mention the cost of colour printing. This project could be done anywhere between Y4-Y8.
The theory material does not need to be searched on the web. It can be printed and provided as class material, sourced in the school library, or available in text books.
In the exercises on the Web, the student is asked to note how the theory relates to his observations. Some people can see colour very differently due to some form of colour blindness, while others perceive colour slightly differently due to genetic influences. Therefore the results of the exercise will show some variation. In fact the results themselves will form an interesting information resource about colour perception. It can later be a subject of statistical hypothesis and testing and be a demographic resource.
So there are no "right" answers to this exercise. The comments that the students provide will indicate their understanding of colour theory and the exercise.
The exercise is a simple experiment. It is an instrument on which settings are manipulated and observations made using a simple quantitative measure. However when we perform an experiment we assume that everyone makes the same observations. This is a false assumption, as this experiment will indicate, and is an important lesson to learn regarding the theory of experiments to verify hypotheses.
The second issue with the experiment is the quantitative measure - although extremely simple it is still open to different personal interpretations. It is not easy to test the difference in this measure between different students. But the scale chosen, (little or none, slight, strong) is as simple as can be usefully used. The teacher will need to play with the experiment beforehand, to get some feel for what these three measures mean so as to be able to guide students in their answers.
These are important issues to note with respect to the exercise as an experiment in Physics.Here is the webpage for the color comparison exercise to be done after the web search.
Finally the relationship between the students observations and their expectations derived from reading about colour theory should be noted. The limitations of Colour theory to predict a perceived colour come into question.
|The Reds Oranges and YellowsAlizarin Crimson|
Light Red Oxide
Cadmium Yellow Medium
Cadmium Red Deep
|The Blues Greens and Purples|
The scale of mixing ratios is chosen to make mixing easy.
The point of this exercise is to see if the colour components form a linear graph. Some may, some may not. The students can suggest reasons based on what they have already learned about colour for why some graphs are not linear. In particular we perceive a wide range of green that is not reproduced well in computer or printed media. So we would expect the green graph to "cutout" at its ends.
Again students learn how to enhance colour in images to restore them as well as possible to their original colours depending on the processes that the colours have been subjected too. For instance the Polaroid process is relatively good at capturing blues but poor at capturing yellows.
Students may also wish to measure the degradation caused by time or ultraviolet light on the painted, printed and photoed swatches.