Friday, August 2, 2013

Josef Albers-Inspired Color Science Art

Two of my favorite places are libraries and art museums. This activity was inspired by an artist biography I found at our local library. Score!

My son doesn't love making art. He groaned when he saw the supplies I'd laid out.

But this simple activity is just as much science as it is creativity. And since he was enamored with our color-blending spinning tops, he was quickly won over.

To help him understand how teacher and artist Josef Albers experimented with color interactions, we read An Eye for Color: The Story of Josef Albers by Natasha Wing.

The book explained that Albers discovered how one color looked different when adjacent to different colors, would recede or pop out depending on how they were layered, etc. My son was fascinated … and totally psyched to make his own layered square artwork. (Check out some of Albers' art here.)

The Art Project
Supplies are minimal. Simply grab some tissue paper in a bunch of colors and clear household contact paper.  Cut the tissue into squares in a variety of sizes.

Peel a piece of contact paper and lay it sticky side up on the table. Place a small square down in the middle and layer larger squares on top one by one.

Sandwich the tissue under another layer of contact paper. Trim it around the edges and hang in a window as a suncatcher.

Now, cut a larger piece of contact paper and let your child go nuts, layering smaller squares and then larger ones. Experiment with how the transparent paper changes colors.

When you put a larger yellow square over a smaller one, does the color look brighter?

Does a yellow square over a red one look orange now?

The discoveries are endless. I think we both know why Albers spent 27 years making squares-within-squares paintings. We were just as captivated by how exciting color can be!


  1. wonderful! beautiful! I'll be adding this art project to our to-do list for the upcoming school year. Thanks!
    (popping over from 123Homeschool4Me)

  2. I love how this turned out!! And libraries and art museums are two of my favorite places too :)