Color Journals: Learning to See Color with Fresh Eyes - Rancho La Puerta
Events Calendar
Types of Events:
Spa Services

Color Journals: Learning to See Color with Fresh Eyes

Week of May 25, 2024

This workshop will focus our attention on the color environment in and around Rancho La Puerta with the aim of increasing our observational acuity and color perception while examining the emotional, cultural and personal foundations of our chromatic preferences.  The workshop will be modular, with daily activities. The workshop will utilize simple materials and will be designed for non-experts to have success while stretching their understanding of the way we see color and how it can be used.  Participants who attend multiple sessions will accumulate pages within a color journal that will be a visual record of their color experiences at Rancho La Puerta.

Hand Binding a Sketchbook
Participants will make an Italian-style hand sewn sketchbook/notebook that we will fill with the color exercises over the course of the week.  (Anyone who doesn’t attend the first session can still participate in any of the later sessions!) 90 mins

Color Perception:  New Eyes
We will discuss and observe the ways that our eyes and our minds collaborate to create the perception of color.  We will experiment with color combinations using paper collage to examine the ways that color can change dramatically based on context. 75 mins

Color Preferences:  Learning to Love All Colors
We will discuss our emotional reactions to colors and the reasons for those feelings.  We will practice recontextualizing colors to turn even the most disliked colors into combinations that we can appreciate. 75 mins

Complicated Color:  Looking Closer
We will experiment with optical mixing to color match the myriad complex color combinations that make up the colors of natural objects.  We will test our ability to remember colors accurately, then expand our color perception through extremely close observation of plants, rocks, etc., from the grounds. 75 mins

Intrinsic and Extrinsic Color:  Color Truths & Color Lies
We will discuss the differences between natural and artificial colors.  We will make watercolor paints out of locally found materials and natural pigments, discuss the various visual, physical and tactile qualities of “real” colors versus “fake” colors, and make a visual record of some of the colors found at Ranch La Puerta. 75 mins


Clayton Merrell grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Puerto Ordaz, Venezuela. He holds an MFA from the Yale School of Art and received a Fulbright Grant for research and creative work in Oaxaca, Mexico in 1996-97.  His work is exhibited widely, with recent exhibitions at: the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum; Penn State University; Concept Gallery, Pittsburgh PA; the A+D Gallery, Chicago; the Westmoreland Museum of Art, and the Strohl Art Center, Chautauqua, NY.  His work is in the collections of the American Embassy in Belmopan, Belize, the Smithsonian Museum, the Anderson Museum of Contemporary Art, the U.S. Department of the Interior, and numerous private and corporate collections.  He was the 2005 Artist of the Year at The Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, and in 2016 was named Creator-of-the-Year by the Pittsburgh Technology Council. He has received awards and grants from the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Skowhegan, The Millay Colony, Blue Mountain Center, Vermont Studio Center, and the Roswell Artist-In-Residence Foundation.  In 2015, the Pittsburgh International Airport completed a 69,000 sq. ft. terrazzo floor based on his design.  He is currently the Dorothy L. Stubnitz Professor of Art at Carnegie Mellon University, where he teaches Color, Painting, Drawing and Concept Studios.