Arts & Activities  

      Color expert Dan Bartges is author of the book, "Color is Everything"
( Visit his website at
      Assignment 1 In A Series Of 10      

Want to create better artwork and have more fun painting? Color is the key. Each month, let’s explore how painters like you can attain color harmony in any painting, regardless of medium or subject matter. All you’ll need for these quick assignments is a standard color wheel, available at any art-supply store.

HOW IT WORKS Each month, study the two featured paintings on this Web page and, with your color wheel, figure out their color schemes. Next, download and print the “Quiz Me!” document, write in your answers to the questions, then hand it in to your art teacher. The correct answers will be made available on next month’s Student Page.

      For a quick review of color-scheme basics, click here for an informative article: The Magic Moment.      
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      Eastman Johnson (American, 1824–1906). A Ride for Liberty—The Fugitive Slaves, March 2, 1862. Oil on board; 21.5" x 26". Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond. Paul Mellon Collection. ©Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

To see the best part of this exciting painting, you’d have to flip it over. Here’s what the artist wrote on the back of it: “A veritable [true] incident in the Civil War seen by myself at Centerville on the morning of McClellan’s advance to Manassas, March 2nd, 1862. Eastman Johnson.”

During the Civil War, the artist, Eastman Johnson, actually saw a family’s daring escape to freedom and later painted this picture of the event. Johnson also painted the portraits of several famous Americans, including President Abraham Lincoln, writer Nathanial Hawthorne and poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.


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      Dan Bartges. Spiderwort in a Bottle. Oil.

Most wildflowers are colorful and fun to paint. When planning this still life, I liked the way the bottle and leaf formed a dramatic arch. As an afterthought, I placed the stick of charcoal in the shadow beneath the arch. That area just seemed to need something extra to attract the viewer’s attention and to draw her or him into my painting.
      QUIZ ME!
Click here to download September’s Quiz Me! document

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