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FAST CLASS: Color for Designers: Exploration, Theory, and Application

Lesson 9 of 10

Learning from the Masters

Richard Mehl

FAST CLASS: Color for Designers: Exploration, Theory, and Application

Richard Mehl

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Lesson Info

9. Learning from the Masters

Lesson Info

Learning from the Masters

So this is a great expression drawing with scissors and you'll have scissors here and is of course you have pencils too. What do you think of that phrase drawing with scissors, what comes to mind when you think of that making shapes, shapes? Yeah cutting out shapes. And um it's it's a way of thinking about lines right? Except with a very different kind of tool. Yeah and the outcome tends to be a little bit different just because of how the scissors is employed. It's a very different kind of a process. So it typically lends itself to irregularity, accidents, serendipity things that you wouldn't necessarily try to do. You find yourself doing just because it's a scissors and it's very very awkward in some ways. Some people are really good with them. I tend to be good with certain kinds of things with scissors but it definitely has a very specific uh usage and feel when you're using it as a tool for drawing. Now this phrase running with scissors is Matisse's own phrase for what he made in ...

his later life. I've mentioned this show that's at moma in new york that came to Moma from the Tate in London. And it's a show of the work that Andre Matisse, first of all, how many of you are are you familiar with? An agreement? Is a little bit um you've probably seen his work, even if the name doesn't really necessarily ring a bell. And this is even if you're at home. Certainly if you're at home you can do a google search for Matisse and if you add the word cutouts, C. U T O U T S. That's actually what he called his later work. He was a painter for most of his life. And then later on he became basically uh he was he was ill and he couldn't really get up out of a chair anymore and so he couldn't stand at an easel and paint. And so that compelled him to do things with art in a different way. And that's when he started using this idea of drawing with scissors. The work still employed a lot of his ideas about color and form and subject matter, but it was all rendered in this way that was very, very different than working with paint. Um and again, if you do a google search or if you just go to the Museum of Modern Art site the moment dot com site dot org. Sorry, you'll see his work miti's jesus cutouts inspiration for students and working designers. Now, this looks an awful lot like one of Matisse's cut outs, but it's not, it's actually the work of one of my students and it was actually made um not too long ago last friday, it was made on the spot in class and the scale isn't necessarily clear here, but Right down here, you can see electrical plug. So this piece is about eight ft tall. And that is actually what Matisse brings to us as well, is this incredible scale. Looking at cut paper, you guys today, I've been working with cut paper on a very small scale. A lot of it has to do with immediacy and sort of what we have to work with here. But he's worked at this scale. Often not all of his cutouts are this size, but the most magnificent ones, the ones that came sort of later in his life are these huge pieces, sparkling spin. It's a Children's book and it's some Something that Paul Rand did with his wife in 1957. I have a copy of that, I think it's somewhere I'll dig it up later, but I have a few things that we can kind of look at. These are the end sheets and right away we get this sense of playfulness and color. And here we see the shapes, we see the emphasis on both figure and ground as we move through. This sparkling spin is about words and it's a Children's book. It's meant to teach Children how to use words, what words are all about, collage all about using cut paper. Now, he's also drawing on pieces which you can feel free to do also with today. I love this piece. The gesture. Look at that, I how similar this is to those snowflakes that my student worked on and this yes, I love a pair becomes a bunny and this is the shape that was cut out of that. So mantis does this a lot to where he'll take a shape that he's cut away from something and then use the background also in the peace, or maybe exclusively in the piece. So that's a little bit of being open minded to what you have in front of you. You might be cutting out of shape and then recognize that what you've cut out the background is actually the useful part.

Class Description


Try a Fast Class – now available to all Creator Pass subscribers! Fast Classes are shortened “highlight” versions of our most popular classes that let you consume 10+ hours in about 60 minutes. We’ve edited straight to the most popular moments, actionable techniques, and profound insights into bite-sized chunks– so you can easily find and focus on what matters most to you. (And of course, you can always go back to the full class for a deep dive into your favorite parts.)

Full-length class: Color for Designers: Exploration, Theory, and Application with Richard Mehl

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  • Effectively select and apply color to enhance your design projects
  • Utilize color theory language to justify your design decisions
  • Expand beyond preconceptions and your comfort zone in working with color


Our response to color comes from the place in our brain where trust, loyalty, behavior, and decision occur – every successful project relies on a designer making smart choices about color.

In Color for Designers: Exploration, Theory, & Application, Richard Mehl will give you a foundational understanding of color theory principles and demonstrate how to apply them. Richard has studied alongside design legends Paul Rand, Bradbury Thompson and Herbert Matter; in this class he’ll share insights gleaned from 12 years of teaching and writing about color in design.

Richard takes an accessible approach to the serious study of color theory for designers. You’ll be exposed to a relevant series of ideas and skills by exploring a range of analog and digital projects.

  • Color terminology and meaning
  • How to view color in context
  • Contrast grids and color illusion
  • Tips for creating a harmonious color palette

In Color for Designers: Exploration, Theory, & Application you’ll develop a new awareness and sensitivity to color that will bolster your confidence in your personal and professional design work.


This class is for designers and color aficionados of all levels working across various media, ranging from floral design to user experience design. It is also an appropriate refresher in color theory for experienced designers.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Color Grid Template.pdf

Playing With Color Color Design Glossary.pdf

Playing With Color Color Wheels.pdf

Playing With Color Leaf Collage.pdf

Playing With Color Patterns.pdf


Playing With Color Wallpaper 1280x800 Infographic

Playing With Color Wallpaper 1200x900

Playing With Color Wallpaper iPad

Playing With Color - Wallpaper iPhone

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Student Work

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