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Shifting The Earth: The Shape of Color and Transformation of Images – Virtual Intersession Marathon Painting/Drawing with Graham Nickson & Guests

March 2022 Intersession Marathon

Course Description

The importance of color cannot be overstated, often derided as too emotional or romantic, its journey throughout history is helpful to know. We will study color from caves of Chauvet from 30,0000 years ago to the color of the blue of the Ishtar Gate from present day Iraq; the ember red of Pompeiian painting; the green of Raphael’s portraits; the velvet black of Manet; the gold of Cimabue. Egyptian walls, Medieval manuscript painting and Indian manuscript painting, leading to the colors of cities and to pastoral color. Color has enormous effect on imagery, it can endorse the image and content profoundly.

Starting with the visceral nature of earth colors, connections to Shamans working with their immediate circumstances, to the use of more ambitious palettes made possible to work in front of nature by the invention of the paint tube, we will make transcriptions from unlikely works from different centuries and cultures of the deep past and of the present. These will be important and ambitious.

The dependence on local color and its being challenged has proved to be very rich territory to explore. Local color led to conceptual color, and then ultimately to perceptual color. We will work on small paintings every day that show the students an understanding in new possibilities in harmonies, which will in turn affect the large paintings which they do. Color, weight, scale and color mixing will be part of the program. Rather than considering these works as studies, we would like for the student to consider them as personal statements that have their own magic; they surprise you but are still your own vision. We will create images and explore the idea of image-makers versus image-seekers. Be prepared for an adventure.

Course Syllabus


Graham Nickson

Dean, Atelier Head of Painting

Snapshots From NYSS

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