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6. Hornung Color Book

Updated: Dec 20, 2022


Over the summer, I focused on “getting my art out in public” which I’ve written about. I’m proud of myself for stepping up to my spring challenge (to myself) but I can feel myself ready to tuck in and refocus on making art.


Can I apply to my own art practice what I’m learning in David Hornung’s book Color: A Workshop for Artists and Designers?

First, I have to explain that, in November of 2021, I was in an online creativity class with teacher artist Rachel Davis. When the 12 weeks ended, several participants and I formed a subgroup where we decided to read and discuss books (mostly related to art). I could write an entire blog post on how that group of artists has been such a positive addition to my life, but I’ll stay focused on Member Ann proposing what we call “the color book” and creating a 16-week pacing guide for those of us who wanted to participate. It’s a thin kind of workbook so I presumed that it would be easy, right? Oh… sooooo no.

Color theory is new to me. (Not covered in an English degree. Shocking.) So far, I’ve created art with an untrained eye and sometimes it has worked great but, with what I’m learning from Hornung, I’m starting to understand more about the times when it hasn’t. The book itself and the exercises are dry but, since it’s a nonfiction instructional guide, that might be best. Member Krisztina pointed out that Hornung tells you exactly what his focus is– Color– and he sticks to it, as he should. (OK, I have to stop naming book club members or I’ll get off topic. To help myself, I’ve inserted the book picture now as a visual reminder of what my focus is to be!)

In September, I was learning about complementary colors and triads and other color wheely things and I applied that knowledge to this piece which I titled “At Play.” When I was making stripes on the balls, I was thinking about light/dark contrast, prismatic/muted colors, what color combinations would have “harmony”– and this was all new thinking for me! Putting those ideas into play and liking the result was a good payoff for working the assignments.

Now I’m another month into Hornung’s book and, frankly, I’m going to have to reread some of his information because, again, it’s new to me and a bit complex. But also mind-blowing. Like the idea that the same color can register differently to a viewer based on what colors are adjacent? Check this out.

Here the small turquoise squares demonstrate how, surrounded by a different hue and/or value, the eye “sees” the same thing differently.


Some of these new concepts, I’m not sure how to apply in my own artwork… yet. That’s what I think is coming next: playing around beyond Hornung’s suggested learning exercises so that, striped ball style, the concepts can be employed naturally in my own creative process.

Also, side note: tomorrow I’m delivering artwork to The Octagon Shop in Ames. It feels a little like dropping off kids to sleepover camp: excited for their upcoming adventures but queasy about whether they’ll be accepted and even liked. Leaving home for IRL sales– Octagon, here we come!

November 4, 2022

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