October has been a colorful month at Storm King far beyond the reds and yellows in our striking fall foliage. If you visit the Vladimir Art Center, you’ll find that the 8th-grade class is immersed in every color of the rainbow as they learn about color theory.

According to art teacher Mr. Ben Harnick, color theory combines both the science and the art of using color: “It explains how we, as humans, perceive color; and the visual effects of how colors mix, match, and contrast with each other. Color theory also includes the messages colors communicate and the methods we use to replicate color.”

8th-graders Daniel and Sagan working on their monochromatic self-portraits

In their color theory unit, the students worked on several hands-on projects which enabled them to practice what they learned. Their initial project was the creation of a monochromatic, or single-color, self-portrait. Using snapshots of themselves, the students raised the contrast level of their photos to enhance their basic facial features. With tracing paper, they drew the light and dark outlines of their images and then filled in the areas with various light and dark shades of a single color to create their self-portraits.

While exploring complementary and contrasting colors, the class learned about Russian artist and color theory pioneer Wassily Kadinsky.  Inspired by his famous work using “concentric circles,” the students were asked to use the Cox Color Wheel to find six different complementary color sets, then paint them in adjoining circles to create their own versions of Kadinsky’s famous work.

Daniel ’25 shows off his tie-dye creation

The class had the most fun while learning about color mixing– another important facet of color theory. To apply color mixing, the students experimented with tie-dying using primary colors. After pre-soaking them, the students tied off sections of their T-shirts and chose their dye colors. For several students, it was their first experience creating and wearing a tie-dye T-shirt and the results brought big smiles.  “My 8th-grade students enjoyed the tie-dying project so much, and got such good results, that the word spread quickly. Now many other students want to try tie-dying, so we may have the chance to share these important lessons on color theory with other groups as well,” explained Mr. Harnick.

Daniel ’25, Sagan ’25, and Shawn ’25 working on tie-dye outdoors