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Traditional And Modern Colour Theory

Dr David Briggs
  • Term: Term One 2018
  • Start Date: 13 Feb 2018
  • End Date: 3 Apr 2018
  • Time: Tuesdays 6pm–9pm
  • Number of Classes: 8
  • Teacher: Dr David Briggs
  • Level: Intermediate , Advanced
  • Age: All Ages
  • Location: The National Art School
  • Availability: Unavailable

This course of illustrated lectures, exercises and still life painting studies is a detailed introduction to modern colour theory, tailored to meet the needs of visual art and design teachers and practitioners. David Briggs goes beyond traditional (early 19th-century) colour theory based on the ‘primary colours’ – red, yellow and blue – to provide a state-of-the-art understanding of all the aspects of colour that are vital for artistic practice. Topics covered include: hue, lightness (tone) and chroma – a framework for describing colour and colour mixing in paints; blackness/brilliance – another aspect of colours of objects; brightness, colourfulness and saturation – the attributes of colour relating to light; psychological, additive and subtractive hue systems; and digital colour spaces – understanding the frameworks available for choosing and manipulating colour in graphics programs.

Dr David Briggs

Dr David Briggs trained at the Julian Ashton Art School, Sydney. He specialises in life drawing and painting and in relating modern scientific knowledge of colour to artistic practice. He has taught art classes since 1996 at many institutions, including six years as the life drawing instructor for Disney’s Sydney studio and, since 2009, numerous classes in life drawing, art history and theory, and practical painting at the National Art School. He is the author of an extensive website on the theory and practice of colour for painters, The Dimensions of Colour. In 2018 he was invited by the Inter-Society Color Council (USA), as part of their International Color Day event, to present a webinar on his unique approach to teaching colour for painters.

Pen and notebook


An assortment of flat and round, bristle and/or synthetic sable brushes of various sizes from fine to large, in good condition.

Artist grade oil paints, preferably including:

  • Titanium White OR Zinc White
  • Permanent Rose
  • Bright opaque red (like Cadmium Red)
  • Bright yellow
  • Yellow Ochre
  • Phthalocyanine Blue (e.g. "Winsor" OR "Spectrum" Blue)
  • Raw Umber
  • Ivory Black or Winsor and Newton Charcoal Grey

And optionally including

  • Bright orange like Cadmium Orange)
  • Phthalocyanine Green (e.g. "Winsor" OR "Spectrum" Green)
  • Ultramarine

Pieces of acrylic-primed canvas, a bit bigger than A4 (most offcuts sold at Parkers are suitable)

Tube of Matisse Carbon Grey acrylic paint for toning canvas

Palette, either wooden (not white) or a small glass clip frame

Stainless steel palette/mixing knife (not plastic)

Screw cap container ("dipper") for painting medium

Linseed Oil (small bottle)

Odourless Solvents

Old rags and paper towels

Protective clothing and covered footwear essential