Jacqueline Sullivan's Studio Letter
The Color Edition
May 2014
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Jacqueline Sullivan, 2014, high flow acrylics and pan pastels with traditional and abstract calligraphy on cold press watercolor paper, 15x22
All colors are the friends of their neighbors
and the lovers of their opposites.
Marc Chagall

The Color Edition
May 2014
Jacqueline Sullivan's Studio Letter

Dear Fellow Artists & Friends.......

Wow! COLOR! When Chris and I talked about doing an issue on color, it seemed like a fairly rational thing to do. But as I have delved further and further into the idea, the more complicated it has gotten.  It’s like the Facebook relationship status that says, “It’s complicated”. And I am finding putting those complications into words very challenging.
I’ve always used color instinctively and have had very little formal color training in my life. But most of my students struggle with color. Because of that I try to include a color wheel in all of my handouts and ask students to look at it when choosing colors. I am happy to provide you with one here.

My first advice to students is to work somewhat analogously, that is, to use colors next to each other on the color wheel. That can be limiting so my second suggestion is to stay within a quadrant of the color wheel. My third suggestion is don't use too many colors. Stay with 3 main colors in your work. You can use tints (white added) and tones (black added) of those colors but not so many colors. It’s hard, I know, the colors are so beautiful and very tempting! Once you have painted most of your piece in this style, I then suggest crossing the color wheel as you are defining the focal point. The focal point of the painting ~ the area that most viewers look at first ~ is generally the area with the highest contrast. And that contrast can be made with color, tonality, texture, etc. That is the place to use colors opposite each other on the color wheel – complementary colors. If you try to blend the complementary colors you will get gray or brown – “mud” as most painters call it.

One of the readings I do in many of my classes is Sr. Corita Kent’s “Rule for Teachers and Students”.  Corita's last rule ~ Rule X ~ is borrowed from  American composer and music theorist John Cage….. "We're breaking all the rules. Even our own rules. And how do we do that? By leaving plenty of room for X quantities."

For me, color is where I try to “break my own rules”. I get wound up in certain color schemes and have a hard time letting them go. My usual color scheme for years has been Quinacridone Nickel Azo Gold, Jenkins Green, Payne’s Gray and Quinacridone Burnt Orange (All Golden Paint Colors). It’s a very warm, earthy color scheme (especially when a bit of Raw Umber is added to these colors) and I’m quick to make it work. But now I am trying to break that “rule”. The new colors [also Golden] that I am working with are Manganes Blue Hue, Burnt Sienna, Titan Buff, Teal and Pyrole Red or Orange ~ very different !  It’s sort of aquatic in feel or maybe celestial, that is, if you ignore the orange or red. Change is good. I’ll let you know how it works out.
~ Jacqueline
In This Issue.......
  • Josef Albers 50th Annviersary of the Interaction of Color
  • Making a Color Wheel & Mixing Colors
  • Nita Leland's Confident Color
  • Thoughts on the 2014 Color of the Year
  • Notes on Printing a Color Wheel
  • Jacqueline's 2014 Workshops ~ the places we'll go !
  • The Village Art Gallery - a new venue for Jacqueline
  • Personal Consultations with Jacqueline
  • Jacqueline's DVDs

Reach out to Jacqueline for Studio Letter comments + suggestions, query on studio practices and techniques or to arrange a workshop booking @

Looking for past Studio Letters ? Link to our archive of Letters

In visual perception a color is almost never seen as it really is – as physically is. This fact makes color the most relative medium in art.
….. Josef Albers, Yale University, 1963

Josef Albers 50th Anniversary of the Interaction of Color
Years ago, when in high school, my wonderful art teacher, Father Robert Hasselhoff, took our class to a gallery show at the Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati which featured the works of Josef Albers. It was amazing! I had never even heard about color relativity at the time and in that show, I got to experience it in person. I stared in awe at these works on the walls, wondering just how it was that this artist made such simple designs that seemed to literally vibrate. And the answer is – color relativity. Color changes when you put another color next to it. For example, when you put a red-orange next to a true red, the true red appears cooler. If you want your red to look more intense, put it next to green. Josef Albers was a master of color relationships and he illustrated this in his works, simple squares, one color against another, the same color over other colors – changing with each relationship. Later, when in college, I did an independent study in color design. In this class I did designs with Color Aid Papers.
These carefully manufactured papers are widely used for color studies. Using pre-printed papers is much more exacting than trying to mix paint.

My studies led me to The Dayton Art Institute’s library where I had the privilege of studying one of the limited 1963 editions of Josef Alber’s book, The Interaction of Color. The book was later printed in a variety of versions and was reprinted in 2013 by Yale University Press in paperback as a 50th anniversary edition. The book is a good read and has 64 of the original 1963 color illustrations. While, there just isn’t any way a printing press can duplicate the power of the color relativities illustrated in Alber’s original silk screened book, they are enough to fully bring home the Alber’s principles. The book is available electronically and there is also a mobile app for the iPad also published by Yale. I am not an iPad owner, but I am wondering how that would work because the light coming through the color would change the total experience. I highly recommend the book, if someone has the app or has read the book on an iPad, I would love to hear how it compares to the print edition and we’ll share your insights and comments in the next edition of my Studio Letter.

Note from Chris: The original 1963 edition of Interaction of Color was only a 2000 copy print run due to the complexity of the book design, its size and configuration – these photographs give you an idea of what the original looked like that Jacqueline was privileged to see and study. Wired magazine has a nice piece from last summer about the original text’s conversion to an app.

There are many wonderful resources available on the web related to Josef Albers and his work from video lectures at Yale, demonstrations of The Interaction of Color iPad app Jacqueline discussed above, Albers exhibits and so much more.

We’ve included links to many of these on Jacqueline’s blog for you to read, view, save and share with other artists and lovers of color.

Four of Albers editions of Interaction of Color are widely available including 3 that are still in print and one from 1975 that is available from many online used book sellers ~ more information on Albers classics and where they may be obtained is also available on Jacqueline's blog.
Making a color wheel & mixing colors ..........
Have you ever mixed blue and red and got a color that is more brown than purple?  Mixing color isn’t quite as easy as what we learned in our grade school science class. The first thing to learn for better color mixing is The Split Primary Palette. With this system you can learn to mix cool colors with other cool colors and warm colors with other warm colors. You will have better results using this system. A good article from Daniel Smith's website on working with the the split primaries is available as a pdf to link, print or share.

Once you have tried the split primary, experiment making other color wheels with different primary colors. Make one with your natural or mineral colors. Then try the chemical colors (Quinacridone, Alizarin, etc.) When attending the Golden Artists Certification class last October, we all made simple color wheels with different primaries. The differences were amazing! It is a great exercise! To make the job easier, you can try Pam Carriker’s color wheel stencils on her Stencil Girl website. She has 5 different color wheel stencils in 4x4 and 6x6 sizes.

image: student color wheels made with primaries from Golden Artist Educator Invitational, New Orleans, 2013
Nita Leland's Confident Color !

I was privileged in March to take a workshop from Nita Leland, a Dayton Ohio artist who teaches internationally. I had met Nita years ago when I lived in Dayton and have always loved her work. I had heard great things about her classes and always wanted to study with her. The class I took was a color class for fiber artists even though I wasn’t thrilled with the subject matter. Yes, I am exploring, and even teaching, some Fiber Art stuff and I feel pretty confident in my use of color in this medium. But I followed my instincts and signed up for the class at Evendale Arts Center in my new hometown of Cincinnati.
And Wow! What a great group of women I met in this group ~  The Contemporary Art Quilt and Fiber Art Group. They welcomed me warmly and shared knowledge and fabric with me throughout the weekend. And secondly, Nita Leland is a great teacher. I have not had many color classes (actually only one, the Independent study class I took in college). I have made color wheels in other classes and been involved in color theory and practice conversations with many great artists through the years. I know many VERY knowledgeable colorists, but Nita, is by far, the best whom I have met. She knows more about color a
nd communicates that knowledge in an organized and easily understood manner.
I purchased her book, Confident Color  [Northlight Books, 2008] and really like it. The book is a well organized presentation of color theory in 160 page spiral bound format discussing color mixing and experimenting in many mediums. Nita provides templates for building color wheels, studying color values and even a “color checker” that you can move around your artwork to see how much you’ve varied the colors of a background or other areas. There is a chapter on Color and Design whic
h discusses color in fine art, graphic arts, crafts and more! The chapters on Color Harmonies and Color Schemes will give you lots of ideas on new colors to try together in various compositions. Chapter 7 ~ Colorists in Action ~ shows step by step how seven different artists use color strategies in their paintings. Confident Color is well indexed, has a page of additional references in the bibliography and is highlighted throughout with “TRY IT ! ” sections. Over 50 artists contributed pieces to Nita’s book making it a visual pleasure as well as an excellent learning resource.

I have so many ideas now for new color themes to try in my work after studying with Nita and reading her wonderful book. For the first time ever, I am excited about making color wheels to see how the colors interact with each other. As far as I am concerned, this book is a “must have” for any artist. In m
y home, it will live in my studio, near my painting area instead of on my living room bookshelves. It is as much a reference book as it is a good read.
You might also like Nita's  short 6” video from 2009 on YouTube Creating Confident Color with Nita Leland.

Note: while we have linked to Amazon for convenince we also would like you to know that Nita Leland's books are widely available from independent book sellers as well as Barnes + Noble
Thoughts on the color of the year........
Pantone, if you haven’t heard of it, is the world renowned authority on color. From Pantone, you can purchase color samples in the form of tablets. This company has long been known as the “go to” for the standard language for color communication. In Graphic Design school, we all carried around our Pantone books and we “comped” our color illustrations by listing the Pantone numbers on the drawings. This was, of course, in the days before it was all done via computers. Now, in Photoshop and Illustrator, you can choose your colors by their Pantone numbers. Every year, Pantone, for more than a decade, has named a “Color of the Year”. This color has influenced product development and purchasing decisions in multiple industries, including fashion, home and industrial design, as well as product packaging and graphic design. I know, when I was framing pictures that the new matte colors that came out would all take a bow to Pantone’s color of the year. On their website you can purchase color inspiration packs which are in the $99-750 range that will coordinate the color of the year with other colors. 

This year’s color is Radiant Orchid. When I first saw it, my reaction was “Ugh!”  I still sort of feel that way. Part of that feeling may be that I resent being told what color I am supposed to use in my home, in my clothing and in my paintings. Although, I have to admit that in previous years, I sort of “came around” and found myself more and more drawn to the current color fad. I was surprised that I was so easily influenced by my surroundings! Pantone says about Radiant Orchid - “An invitation to innovation, Radiant Orchid encourages expanded creativity and originality, which is increasingly valued in today’s society.” Right now, it doesn’t seem to be leading me towards any expanding creativity. It is a close relative to Golden’s Quinacridone Violet. I do like using that color occasionally. I especially like it on my paintings next to Quinacridone Nickel Azo Gold. It also looks good with Teal and with a wash of Turquois Pthalo. Pantone further describes the color as “An enchanting harmony of fuchsia, purple and pink undertones, Radiant Orchid inspires confidence and emanates great joy, love and health. It is a captivating purple, one that draws you in with its beguiling charm.” Wow! that’s a lot of responsibility for a color. Right now, all I can say is that it is not inspiring me to feel more confident and I don’t really feel any great sense of joy or love, and just how is it supposed to influence my health? I think what it is going to do is make me feel a bit self-conscious every time I squeeze a bit of Quinacridone violet onto my palette.

What are your thoughts on radiant orchid ~ color of the year ?

note from chris:  resources and further links of interest on the 2014 color of the year have been added to Jacqueline's latest blog ~ all are related to the world of color discovered as we researched this issue of the Studio Letter including links from Pantone, Sherwin Williams chip-it site, pinterest, a HOUZZ idea book on how to use the color of the year and a fascinating site of color collections inspired by favorite paintings.
notes on printing a color wheel......
The generic color wheel I have used is a good one because it shows you the tints (white added) and the tones (black or brown added) of each color. It is also good because it shows many mixes of color between the primaries. But it is hard to send/view a color wheel via a computer. The light shining through the colors changes our perception of them. Printing out the color wheel is also challenging because each printer will print it differently. If you do print this one out, I suggest that you go into your print set-up screen and make some choices. The first choice to make is on the paper menu, choose photo paper. My experience is that if you print on a good quality gloss photo paper you will obtain the best color reproduction. Then look for the quality menu that allows you to choose print quality and select the highest quality available. If there is a color matching setting, choose that and select “match to file". This will cause the file to scroll to the printer VERY slowly and if you are using an inkjet printer,  it will print VERY slowly. But it will give you the truest color match possible with a download from the computer.

I strongly suggest that you make your own color wheels with the paints that you own. It recently occurred to me that I should make and scan and print a color wheel with the Golden colors that I provide for students. I am really looking forward to doing that for my students!  It will replace the “Color Suggestion” sheets that I have provided in hand out materials many of you received when attending my workshops.

Where will Jacqueline be
traveling & teaching
this summer and fall ?
From the Blue Grass State [Louisville and Paducah] to the Pacific Coast of Northern California.  And these wonderful venues in Wisconsin -  Mineral Point and Door County...….Alaska just before the summer solstice and a return to the summer series at Red Deer College in Alberta, Canada. Jacqueline’s second home of Michigan – Franklin and Owosso and new venues in her Ohio home [Columbus & Cincinnati]. West Virginia and San Antonio Texas and beautiful Tuscon. And look for her in cyberspace teaching 4 week on-line acrylics workshops for Artists Network University.
See the full 2014 - 2015 workshop calendar details on Jacqueline’s website. Questions on a specific workshop content ? Please don’t hesitate to contact Jacqueline directly !
Jacqueline's 2014 ~ 2015 current workshop schedule
many new classes listed !
posted @
click here for Jacqueline's 2014-2015 schedule @ a glance in pdf format for easy printing - viewing & sharing

256 North Adams Road
Rochester Hills Michigan

tel # 248.375.2870

 I didn’t quite move everything to Ohio. I left some art work at one of my favorite places, The Village Fine Art Gallery. Showing there are several of my framed collages and a few calligraphic works. In the near future I plan to have some unframed collages and my cards there. If you live in or are visiting Michigan, check out the gallery in Rochester Hills. It is a wonderful place featuring great art and fine crafts. I find something for my own collection or for a gift every time I visit.
Now available ~
personal consultations with Jacqueline......

Is there a painting or other art work where you are just stuck and don’t know which way to turn? Are you trying to work out a special technique with acrylic paints and need a push in the right direction? Do you want to add more life to your broad edged calligraphy? Jacqueline is now offering private consultations. If you are near Cincinnati, you can come to the studio and spend some time with her. If long distance, we can work via skype, a telephone call or even use e-mail conversations. Jacqueline is also available for "studio sessions" for individuals or small groups in her Cincinnati home studio.
E-mail Jacqueline: for more information, to discuss your ideas  or for an appointment.

Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers today;
And give us not to think so far away
As the uncertain harvest; keep us here
All simply in the springing of the year.

Robert Frost, Pulitzer Prize winning poet, 1874-1963
A Prayer in Spring
Image: Steven Jackson, 2013 Tulips in Bloom Cincinnati Zoo
image: Jacqueline Sullivan, 2013, detail of painting texture featuring Manganese Blue Hue, Turquoise Pthlao, Payne's Gray, white and accented with Permanent Red Shade Pan Pastel, 24"x24"

Many topics in this month's Studio Letter have additional materials posted on Jacqueline's blog.  For quick reference:
  • Josef Albers Interaction of Color - many additional resources, availability of books in print, details on iPad app including link to a "trailer" on what the app does BLOG LINK
  • color of the year - additional color sites, pinterest board on radiant orchid, HOUZZ site on how color can be used  BLOG LINK
  • discussion on the 1692 Dutch artist's 800 page color book with link to high resolution images of the book BLOG LINK

Jacqueline's Video Art Workshops

Go For The Gesso - Jacqueline's 4th and latest video workshop is a 1 hour DVD providing instruction in a variety of gesso techniques incorporating acrylic paints, pan pastels and stamping techniques to create beautiful color - layers and texture. The DVD is $27 and includes S+H for US addresses [international mailing quoted by country]. See Jacqueline's blog for ordering information, supplementary materials which accompany the DVD and a special offer for the holidays ! Or contact Jacqueline directly to order now.

Simple Metal Etching -  Jacqueline's 3rd video art workshop teaches 3 different methods for creating a resist on copper and brass. The DVD is $20 and includes supplementary materials which are emailed to you. S+H is FREE for US addresses. International addresses quoted by country. Additional information on Jacqueline's blog. DVD may also be ordered by email.

Mixed Media Textural Collage - See Jacqueline's blog post [Nov 13, 2012] for complete details on the DVD's content and ordering. $20 includes supplementary materials. S+H FREE for US addresses.
International addresses quoted by country.  DVD may also be ordered by email.

Acrylics, Textures, Layers, Metalics -Jacqueline's very popular class continues to be available from Creative Catalyst Productions - see Jacqueline's web page for a link to CCP for ordering and view a preview of the video workshop here

Ordering is easiest via PayPal for both US and international addresses - new to PayPal ?? see Jacqueline's blog post for step by step how-to or email us and we'll send the info directly to you.

image: Jacqueline Sullivan, 2011, "Geisha Writing", Acrylic paint, tissue and image transfer on cold press watercolor paper. 9" x 12" 
Jacqueline Sullivan is a mixed media, acrylic and calligraphic artist. She is well known for her pieces that experiment with texture, layers, paint, unusual materials, calligraphic marks and words. Jacqueline’s work has been shown nationwide in galleries and juried art fairs. She has a degree in graphic design and worked for many years as a publication and advertising designer. For over 30 years Jacqueline has also been a teaching artist and currently travels throughout the US and Canada teaching artists of all levels to stay in touch with their creative selves. She has a special interest in healing, both physically and emotionally, through a creative practice. Her work and full workshop calendar can be viewed at
Email Jacqueline @

Jacqueline Designs, Inc

A Studio Letter  May 2014
Vol. 2  #10
Written & Published By:
Jacqueline Sullivan  &  Chris Wachsmuth
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Copyright © 2014 Jacqueline Sullivan Designs, Inc, All rights reserved.
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