Dick Nelson and Joseph Albers

Dick Nelson deconstructed my sense of color.

After his 8 week course, I was, for the first time, able to look at a single color and deduce the amount of the three primaries that it contained. I was able to understand that luminosity was created by combining colors of similar families. He taught me about halation.

“It’s the quality of luminosity which intrigues me, and my love of seeing through one color to another, ” explains Nelson. This is a literal expression. In halation, an affect taught by Nelson, it occurs that a child swatch of color appears to glow near the edges and take on the color of it’s parents; solid colors become gradients.

My mind was blown open. I would leave the class and the world would be vibrating.

He had come from the school of Joseph Albers.

An orange square inside of a white square with a thin white line sqaure.

Until Nelson’s class I would have missed the boat entirely on this piece. I had studied Kazmir Malevich at UC Berkeley who had painted a white square on a white canvas. He led the Suprematist movement in the budding USSR. To me his work– shapes of color on a canvas was about making a statement.

Albers is showing something. The relationship between paints that are mixed and then placed next to eachother in steps, is stunning. If they are the same value, we get vanishing boundaries. Steps between different parents are affected by their surroundings. “Color is the most relative medium in art,” said Albers.

By looking at this art, we are training our eye to see the deeper into the vastness of color.

Dick Nelson took this concept and furthered it with the use of a computer. “It’s is like having one hundred apprentices,” he has said.


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