Playing with Color is a workbook of color experiments for professional graphic designers, students of art and design, and DIY enthusiasts—a highly accessible and playful approach to the serious study of color, and an exploration of the energy that color brings to design. Readers are  encouraged to adopt a disciplined yet playful approach to visual problem solving. Each project provides color experience; each experience adds substance to the reader's color awareness.

This hands-on book begins with an appeal for the philosophy of learning via the process of play. The experiments commence with the classic color exercises of Itten and Albers, followed by a series of original color design projects. Each experiment is expressed in a compelling display of words and images, designed to inspire and inform your embrace of color, form, material, and craft.

Playing with Color will guide the reader on a chromatic journey of exploration and discovery, and leave her with a personal toolkit of ideas and skills related to color.



from playing with color...

practice and theory


In 2002, I was asked by Richard Wilde, chair of the Advertising and Graphic Design Department at the School of Visual Arts in New York, to develop a foundation course in two-dimensional design and color theory, to prepare students for the rigors of the advertising design program. He proposed that the course be called Principles of Visual Language. 

Most of the assignments in this book were shaped during the last ten years of teaching Principles of Visual Language. Many are based on assignments originally taught by Itten and Albers. Itten’s color contrasts and twelve-hue color circle are essential to the study of color theory, and are included here in modified versions of the original assignments. A selection of Albers’s experiments with color illusion and his wonderful leaf study assignment are included. These projects are essential experiences in an exploration of color theory.

In teaching Principles of Visual Language, we follow the educational strategy described by Josef Albers in Interaction of Color

“The aim of such study is to develop—through experience—by trial and error—an eye for color ... it means development of observation and articulation .... This book, therefore, does not follow an academic conception of ‘theory and practice.’ It reverses the order and places practice before theory, which, after all, is the conclusion of practice.”

Teaching color theory and exploring color relationships in work and play has added value to my life and to the lives of my students. Through practice and observation, we gain greater awareness and sensitivity—we develop an eye for color.