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The International Year of Light

If you really want to learn about color - you must learn about light!

The United Nations has declared 2015 the International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies. I plan on celebrating all year long by learning as much as I can about light and sharing what I learn.

I think of all of you as my fellow Color Explorers and I invite you to come along as I venture deeper and deeper into the wonderful world of color and light.

Note: By EU law, all incandescent bulbs are to be phased out by 2016. Imagine that!


  • Video introducing the International Year of Light.
  • Beyond James Turrell: 10 More Great Artists Who Use Light as a Medium.
  • Lyon Festival of Lights - It was on December the eighth 1852 that residents of Lyon first lit candles as a way of thanking the Virgin Mary for ridding the city of plague 200 years earlier. Now the annual festival in early December showcases the art of light at over 70 sites.
  • GLOW - Every year, at the beginning of November, the city of Eindhoven in the Netherlands is lit up by artists who use light to bring the local architecture to life.
  • Aurora Carealis - Starts tonight in Finland.
  • Photo above by Bram Platel from the 2010 GLOW
  • Color and Light by James Gurney - the best book on color for artists.

Exploring Color and Light at VIA Artistica

I've had so much fun over the last two months getting ready for a dedicated Year of Color and Light.

I moved all my "color stuff" into my teaching studio at VIA Artistica including hundreds of color books, my color exploration tools, and years of teaching supplies.

This photo is from a workshop at the National Art Educators Association Conference. We played with stage lighting using LED's and binder clips. The experience inspired me to add light to my classes coming up this year.

Here's a few of the light focused supplies that I've added to the teaching studio:

  • A set of Lumenplay lights,
  • The Optical Society of America's "Light Blox" kit,
  • A digital RGB controller with dimmer controls + LED strips, 
  • I-pad mini.   

I also stocked up on:

  • LED bulbs and batteries
  • Old fashioned slide projectors (hurray for Craigslist!)
  • Color mixing slide set
  • Theater gels
  • LED flashlights
  • and soon to be more.

Starting in January, I'll be offering new classes, workshops and open studios focused on 21st Century Color - curriculum that integrates the art and science of color. Most of these classes will be held here in Portland, Oregon including a week long intensive in Light and Color at VIA Artistica this summer. 

I hope to see you in one of more of the workshops!

My New Year's G.I.F.T. to You - A Collection of Color Sites

Exploring color and light includes playing with color on the computer!

I spent many hours on the internet searching for well designed, free color sites that are easy to use. There are dozens out there - I'll just share a few of my fav's. I hope they help bring more color into your life as we head into 2015.

Note: As I poked in and out of links, I discovered that many of the free sites have ads. I consider that a minor annoyance since I am good at ignoring them in return for the fun of playing with color.

G is for Generator

Color Scheme Generators let you choose a hue harmony - monochromatic, analagous, complementary, triad, etc - and then try out variations.

I is for Image & Inspiration

Some generators identify the colors in an Image to use as Inspiration. Most choose just five colors.  Some do so much more!

You can even use images of famous painting to identify the colors.

F is for Find

No idea where to start? There are all kinds of color schemes free for the picking. You don't have to join these sites to just look!

  • ColourLovers - Click on "Browse"  to see palettes and patterns OR add your own colors to any of the patterns.
  • Design Seeds - A daily dose of color.
  • In Color Balance - Russian site similar to Design Seeds.
  • Perfect Palette - For weddings and parties. 
  • Pinterest - One of the best places to find visual inspiration. My friend Carol Simmons has many beautiful boards on color combinations.
  • Dribble - Show and tell for designers.

T is for Test Run

You've decided on the colors and want to try them out. These sites come in many variations include creating collages, and testing images under different color blindness conditions.

  • Tin Eye Labs. Let's you change proportion of your colors and creates a collage of images from Flickr in your color scheme. Very fun!
  • Coblis - Test images for color blindness.

That's just the tip of the iceberg for color scheming sites. Enjoy the links!

Countdown to Midnight

Put What Color Is It ‚Äčon your screen and let the colors count you down to midnight.

Let's raise a glass and make a New Year's toast - 

"To a fun year of colorful adventures." Hurrah!

Big Hugs! See you in 2015!