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A List of Free Color Resources and Color Theory Information for Artists

Today’s list of resources will help anyone interested in learning about color theory or the use of color in art at a college level. It’s also the fourth post in my series on getting an art education for free. (Here are my first, second and third.)

I certainly had more difficulty tracking down resources for this article then I did the previous ones. For instance, I couldn’t find a free book online about color, although there was plenty of color discussion in my earlier list of painting resources.

Perhaps the lack of color resources online is because color does not reliably transfer through a screen, and seeing the color of a painting or drawing in person is much different than seeing a reproduction.

Whatever the reason, here’s the list of resources on color that I did find:

A FREE college course on color

This online class from MIT is completely free, and looks to be a great resource.

1. MIT Open Course on the Art of Color

The website states: “This seminar introduces, through studio projects, the basic principles regarding the use of color in the visual arts.” It goes on to say that the class also covers the history, psychology, and interactions of color.

Cheap classic books on color and color theory

These two books can be found on Amazon and elsewhere for very affordable prices.

1. Interaction of Color by Josef Albers
2. Color By Betty Edwards

Free color articles online

A little more accessible than books, here are some good articles on color that have been published online.

1. Practical Guide to Color For Artists – a good introduction to color schemes
2. Nita Leland’s Article Store – this popular author has several articles on color
3. Color for Bead Artists – Margie Deeb discusses color palettes for bead art

Color tutorials on video

YouTube may have more information on color available, but these stood out.

1. YouTube video on the difference between RGB and CMYK colors
2. YouTube video on using shapes to choose color schemes – by Sessions.edu
3. YouTube video on a “using color as value” exercise – also by Sessions.edu

Additional resources

Finally, here are few other longer resources on color that you’re sure to find useful.

1. Empty Easel’s guide to mixing color, Part 1 and Part 2
2. Empty Easel’s archive of articles on color theory
3. Making A Mark’s guide to colour on Squidoo
4. Making A Mark’s guide to colour systems

Have something to add?

If you’d like to suggest another color resource to be included in this post, please submit it via EmptyEasel’s contact form.

And don’t forget to check back in a month for my final list of resources for artists. Or, sign up for EmptyEasel’sf free newsletter and get notified when it’s published.

*Note: this post may contain affiliate links*

Have you ever noticed how art magazines, art blogs, art classes and instructional books often call bright greens “garish”? Many will suggest avoiding green paint straight from the tube, and instead will tell you to mix your own greens from blue and yellow paint for a better effect. Generally that "better effect" is a less intense color. . . unless you’re using Pthalo Blue mixed with a. . . read more

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