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Value You See through Color You Don't:

A Painting Challenge


University of Idaho



Course Level

Intermediate, Advanced level painting or Color Theory


Conversation points for instructors

In painting everyone gets excited about color (including me!).  I wanted to reinforce the idea that value still plays a huge role in how we see and understand a painting.


We’ve been provided face shields as an extra layer of safety in our classrooms. The shield provides a benefit in the face of Covid, but also an opportunity to mount a piece of translucent colored mylar on the shield. This colored mylar blocks the student from seeing the hue they are using and only allows them to see the value of it. In addition, it is enjoyable to see students so surprised at their results.


David Schmidt, University of Idaho's Technical Design Studio Director, 3D printed over 600 shields for our college, which inspired me to do something more with the shields than have them sit in student’s lockers.



Project Prompt / Challenge

Paint the values you see with the colors you don't.



Part 1

At the beginning of class, you will tape a piece of colored mylar to your face shields. Red and Green work the best at neutralizing the colors, and some colored sheets may need to be doubled up to work best for this purpose.


Once you have your shield on, I will select and place three colors plus white on your palette.  You will not know what has been chosen. 


While wearing the colored shield and only looking at the painting or the palette, you will paint a still life object I have set out for you. After an hour and half, we’ll stop. At that time, you’ll be asked to guess what colors are in front of you and THEN and ONLY THEN, you’ll be allowed to take off your masks and see how we all did with this challenge.  


Part 2

Using the same paint color as assigned before, you are now challenged to paint the still life again. This time you won’t be wearing the shield, but you should still work to capture the true value range in front of you.


Colored translucent mylar  (I purchased a pack of 25 from Dick Blick.)

Face shields


One day assignment broken up into two sections of an hour and a half each.


Student Examples:



Aaron Westerberg does some wonderful color studies.

Additional Tips: 

I use objects painted white for this assignment & set students where they can observe and paint one each due to the length of this challenge and classroom distancing needs.


Shifting into Part 2, helped solidify the idea that when a painting is done with accurate value the color doesn't matter.

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