Postcolonial Thoughts: Thoughts on Pedagogy of the Visual Artist Continued (Color)

by Christopher Hutchinson

“Postcolonial Thoughts: Thoughts on Pedagogy of the Visual Artist Continued (Color)” is a followup to “Postcolonial Thoughts: Thoughts on Pedagogy of the Visual Artist.”


Note 5-It is not a style and it is not new

(noun) – A tint is a color to which white has been added to make it lighter. Take pink, for instance. Pink is a color, but it’s also a tint of red. Sometimes tints are referred to as “pastels.” While this is technically inaccurate (pastels are a type of crayon), it’s such a common phrase that it’s worth noting here.

The bad habits developed by so-called illustrators filter into the model for every other pursuit in art. Usually these poor traits, when challenged by a professor, yield a common response: “its just my style.” The harsh reality is that it is not a style and it is not. It is just lazy. The poor understanding of value gray scaling in drawing has been transferred to color. Where color has an even more demand for tint and shade.

Many of these illustrators employ a “style” of the easiest, laziest color palette possible: primary colors squeezed straight out of the tube. This is readily identifiable by artists as remedial, nowhere close to being an original style. Using colors straight out of the tube is not an artistic choice and it does not lead to a personal expression. The only possible outcome is mass marketed expression. For the non-artist all one has to do to see the proof of this is look at the difference between Ford company white versus a Mercedes Benz white. They are not the same. Using a manufactured color off the shelf is the equivalent of identifying with Walmart as an expression of “my personal style.” The most generic as special. This may be the point for instance in Pop art, but if that is not the point, then you have actually achieved a banal, mundane expression about something you care about.

(noun) – A shade is what one ends up with when black (or some other dark color) is added to a pure hue. Suppose you had some green paint and mixed a bit of dark gray paint into it. The resulting paint would be darker than (also known as a shade of) the original green. Think of a dazzlingly sunny day with intense color all around, then picture the way the light and colors change when you place yourself under the leafy shade of a tree.

The opposite of shade is tint.

The first painting does not use shade, tint, value, or any formal element to suggest a reason for the viewer to entertain this image for longer than a millisecond and then move on. Yet somehow this artist/non-artist is content to present this image as something other than generic.


Note 6- Ugly color

It is a misconception that complimentary colors are harmonious. They are actually the violent. All one needs to do to confirm this is look at nature. The most vibrant complimentary colors reside in all the poisonous animals as a warning not to proceed further. Complimentary colors in abundance are actually violent and should be used with the utmost care to make sure your concept is not overshadowed by violence. That violence is ugly.

The attraction to the highly contrasting and violent color schemes by these “artists/non-artists” are directly related to the lack of patience required to master the many levels of gradients skipped over in their drawing practice.

Pedagogy 3

Primary Colors: Red, yellow and blue
In traditional color theory (used in paint and pigments), primary colors are the 3 pigment colors that can not be mixed or formed by any combination of other colors. All other colors are derived from these 3 hues. 

Secondary Colors: Green, orange and purple
These are the colors formed by mixing the primary colors.

Tertiary Colors: Yellow-orange, red-orange, red-purple, blue-purple, blue-green & yellow-green
These are the colors formed by mixing a primary and a secondary color. That’s why the hue is a two word name, such as blue-green, red-violet, and yellow-orange.


Note 7- Still flat

A plane surface is a flat surface, and any distinct flat surface within a painting or sculpture can be referred to as a plane

The flatness achieved by the painting above is also achieved by the way the color is applied. Certainly the lack of tint and shade also attributed to its flatness. Here the focus is on application. This flatness can be attributed to the mechanical pencil and the sharpie. The mechanical pencil to pen to sharpie is rough.

If the upper right hand corner and the lower right hand corner of a painting has the same color and color value it might as well be a solid sharpie line around the image. You have successfully flattened the image. If every color is also evenly distributed through the piece from top to bottom you may as well have the background blank, because you have now suggested the entire piece was completed at the same time. Same time equals flat.




Many of these students are allowed to keep their bad habits while passing through the high school years and are confused why they have difficulty on the collegiate level. Artists calling themselves artists without ever hearing the term “formal elements of art.” Considering all the formal elements of art are the very basic understanding needed to actually begin to understand your identity, pallet, and purpose as an artist.

Christopher Hutchinson 2Christopher Hutchinson is an accomplished Jamaican conceptual artist, professor and contributor to the art community as a writer, critic and founder of the nonprofit Smoke School of Art. He is a Professor of Art at Atlanta Metropolitan State College and has been featured as a lecturer including prestigious engagements at University of Alabama and the Auburn Avenue Research Library. For two decades, Chris has been a practicing artist. His works have been exhibited in internationally recognized institutions including City College New York (CUNY) and featured at the world’s leading international galleries such as Art Basel Miami. He has always had an innate passion for creating spaces where Africans and people of African descent contribute to an inclusive contemporary dialogue—ever evolving, not reflexive but pioneering. This requires challenging the rubric of the canon of art history, a systemic space of exclusion for the Other: women and non-Whites, and where necessary he rewrites it. He received his Master of Fine Arts Degree in Painting from Savannah College of Art & Design, Atlanta and his Bachelor of Arts Degree from the University of Alabama in Huntsville, Alabama.


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Categories: Art, Postcolonial Thoughts, Writing


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3 Comments on “Postcolonial Thoughts: Thoughts on Pedagogy of the Visual Artist Continued (Color)”

  1. August 25, 2016 at 10:54 pm #

    Students need to be inspired to use color and shading in ways that suit the task at hand. I want art that I experience to come from the original perspective of the artist not a prescribed set of rules. I understand that as a teacher you want students to experience the control of color in order to create a representation of an object or scene, but many artists tire quickly of this approach not due to laziness but a feeling of disconnection. Why represent something in a painstaking way when you have these marvelous colors, lines and shapes to play with to create something new that inspires a reaction other than “Nice pipe?” As a teacher, I do not believe in laziness, but in lack of motivation. If students have no interest in art, but want to be cartoonists, illustrators or game developers, or if they love creating freely, it is up to the teacher to inspire students to use and value certain skills or knowledge as useful tools in attaining their goals. Laziness implies a lack of character or value judgement which you as a teacher will have almost no ability to find strategies to counteract, while a student who is unmotivated can be inspired and enlightened and energized. You are not going to reach all of your students, but starting from a point of view that contains possibilities for dialogue and expansion beyond a set of skills and basic rules sets up a more positive experience for both the teacher and the student.

    Liked by 1 person

    • chrishutch
      August 26, 2016 at 12:00 pm #

      Thank you for your reply. It is not to reach everyone. Teaching for enjoyment sets the child to grow into accepting bad habits as the standard. Then they will run into a huge issue once they reach the collegiate level of which those students will then have to go back and actually learn the proper way. This could be avoided with fun implementation of the formal elements

      Liked by 1 person


  1. Dialogue with myself – Judul Situs - August 26, 2016

    […] Postcolonial Thoughts: Thoughts on Pedagogy of the Visual Artist Continued (Color) […]

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