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Understanding and Applying Colour

Understanding and Applying Colour

Regular price $463.50
Regular price $515.00 Sale price $463.50
GST included where applicable.

22 Jul - 9 Sep 2024 (Mon)
10:00am - 1:00pm

This course is a unique introduction to colour, tailored to meet the needs of art and design practitioners, teachers, and suitable for anyone interested in colour. Unlike other entirely practical short courses, this program consists primarily of copiously illustrated lectures, complemented with descriptions and demonstrations of practical exercises that progress from basic exercises illustrating colour theory, to painting studies. The lectures are delivered in real time and include discussions with David and other students. The exercises are completed out of course hours and reviewed in class.
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Course Details

Course Program: Term 3 2024

Start Date: 22 July 2024

End Date: 9 September 2024

Day: Monday

Time: 10:00am - 1:00pm

Number of classes: 8

Discipline: Painting

Lecturer: Dr David Briggs

Age: 16 years and over

Level: Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced

Location: Online

Course Overview

This course provides a unique introduction to our current understanding of colour, tailored to meet the needs of art and design practitioners and teachers, but suitable for anyone interested in colour. Researched and developed by Dr David Briggs over the last twenty years, the course includes eight major sections of illustrated lecture content, each with accompanying practical exercises. All participants receive a set of approximately 450 slides from the lecture course.

The lectures are conducted in real time in the virtual online studio with time for questions and interactions with David and other students. Each session will end with descriptions and demonstrations of optional practical exercises that progress from basic exercises illustrating the theory to painting studies.

*Short courses are open to students of ages 16 years and over. For students under 16 years of age there are School Holiday Workshops, Art Club and other youth art programs.

Lecture Topics 

  1. What is a colour? What exactly are we seeing when we see a colour? Attributes of colour perceptions: explore how colours of objects can be described in terms of attributes such as hue, lightness (=value, tone) and chroma (colour strength). What scales are used to specify each of these attributes?
  2. Colours of objects and light. What different kinds of colour perceptions do we have when we view an illuminated scene.  Colorimetry: how does our framework of colour perceptions relate to colorimetry (colour measurement) and the colour spaces used by digital artists?
  3. Biology and physiology of colour vision. Explore the widely misunderstood physical and biological basis of colour vision. Mixing processes: How does our knowledge of colour perception help us to understand additive, subtractive, and partitive mixing theory.
  4. Artists paints: compare artists’ pigments and their physical properties such as opacity, tinting strength, toxicity, and permanence. How does the mixing of actual paints relate to theoretical mixing processes.? Learn to fine tune the colour of a paint mixture by applying your knowledge of paint-mixing paths in colour space.
  5. Colour and light I. Understand the zones of light and shadow on an illuminated object. Explore how two further attributes of perceived colour, saturation and brilliance, can be employed to evoke appearances of illumination and luminosity in a painting.
  6. Colour and light II. What are the effects on the appearance of a scene of variations in the direction, size, distance, colour and number of the light source(s), and of the material properties of the objects and intervening atmosphere?
  7. Colour perception. Explore the many aspects of visual perception relevant to representational and abstract painters, including adaptation, colour constancy, and partial failures of colour constancy including contrast and assimilation.
  8. Theories of colour. We review and consolidate our understanding of colour from a historical perspective with a survey of the development of theories of colour from the Renaissance to the present. How do the tenets of traditional “artistic” (red-yellow-blue) colour theory relate to current knowledge?

*NAS Short Courses are open to students of ages 16 years and over. The NAS Art Club is open to students from ages 15 years and over.

Course Delivery

David’s online studio course is taught with Zoom and takes advantage of the full range of tools that this program offers. He is present in the online studio for the whole session and he responds directly to student questions in live critiques and discussions. We are also using Padlet in this course, Padlet is a web application that allows users to post information and images on a digital wall. 

If you are unfamiliar with the Zoom program, some tutorial assistance is available prior to the commencement of the first session to ensure you can join in with ease and get to know the online learning environment. You will be guided in Padlet usage by your Lecturer and you can get additional tutorial help from NAS.

Class sizes are limited to a maximum of twelve students and the sessions are not recorded.

Student Home-Studio Requirements

A computer, laptop or ipad with a good internet connection

Digital camera to photograph practical exercises for feedback

Lecturer Profile

Dr David Briggs is a painter and teacher of life drawing, anatomy and colour for painters at the National Art School, the Julian Ashton Art School and the University of Technology, Sydney. His publications include his website The Dimensions of Colourand a chapter in theRoutledge Handbook of Philosophy of Colour(2020). David is President, NSW Divisional Chair and Colour Education Officer of the Colour Society of Australia, and is a committee member of the International Colour Association (AIC) / Inter-Society Color Council (ISCC) Colour Literacy Project, an international educational initiative to provide age-appropriate colour curricula and state-of-the-art resources for teachers across science, art and industry. David has been teaching practical classes and workshops on colour for painters for 20 years and has also written and presented an elective at NAS on the history of colour theory and practice. He gave an account of his unique approach to colour education as an invited speaker and workshop presenter at the ISCC/AIC Munsell Centennial Symposium in Boston in 2018.

Art Materials

Students must supply their own art materials, please refer to the list below.

Oil paints including at least these colours:

  • Raw Umber
  • Permanent Rose
  • Any black, white, red, yellow and blue (more if you already have them)

Acrylic paint:

  • One tube of Matisse Carbon Grey or Golden Neutral Grey No. 5


  • Small range of brushes from fine to large, in good condition
  • Painting supports, either artists’ canvas (preferably) or sealed heavyweight card or paper
  • Palette (wooden, or a small glass clip frame or plate of glass)
  • Metal palette knife
  • Linseed oil and odourless solvent (small bottles okay)
  • Old rags and paper towels


    Parkers Fine Art Supplies have a location of the NAS campus and offer a discount for NAS short courses students. To discuss and order art materials please contact Parkers:

    Phone: +61 2 9247 9979


    Parkers Fine Art Supplies Website 

    In line with NAS Covid Safety Guidelines, all students and visitors must be fully vaccinated or have a medical contraindication form completed by a health professional.

    Protective clothing and covered footwear essential