Art History: Colour in Art

Ref: C2419126

At the crossroad of intuition and science, colour has been the subject of many artistic debates. We will study what colour is, how it works, and how it has been used by artists to achieve specific effects. We will start by addressing the cultural dimension of colour perception. We will see how colour has long been devalued and feared, particularly in Western classical thought. However, many modern artists, such Matisse, have considered colour as a positive value and have made it a focus of their art. We will then look at pigments and paint, and follow the story of one colour throughout the centuries: blue. We will then engage in an exploration of colour theory, which will take us from Turner, through Sonia Delaunay to Bridget Riley. While experiencing and analysing their works, we will learn about colour interactions. Finally, we will consider colour as a symbolic language, one that finds resonances in music and literature. Kandinsky and Whistler will be two key examples.

Course aim

This course looks at the way colour has been considered and used by artists throughout the years.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • No skills or experience needed

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • Use specialised terms (such as tonal scale, saturation, etc.) with more confidence
  • Describe and analyse the chromatic aspects of works of art
  • Discuss colour's place in culture and modern art

How will I be taught?

  • The WEA tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you and the group to be actively involved in your learning

What kind of feedback can I expect?

  • A range of informal activities will be used by the tutor to see what you are learning which may include quizzes, question and answer, small projects and discussion

What else do I need to know?

  • Nothing else is needed
  • We may organise a class visit to a museum on a Saturday. We will discuss this during the first session.

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • No pre reading or pre course work is required

What can I do next?

  • Progress to another WEA course
  • Progress to a course with another provider

Download full Course information sheet

Art History: Colour in Art


You can if you meet all of the following requirements:

  • are paying the standard fee or are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • are paying with a credit/debit card or are not paying a fee because of a qualifying benefit
  • have a valid email address
  • have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2017
  • have read and accept the standard terms and conditions
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