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by Deb Shaw

Many of us began our first forays into art and color with a box of crayons at a young age. Crayola Crayons, according to their website, began in 1885, when two cousins, Edwin Binney and C. Harold Smith took over Edwin’s father’s pigment business. At the time, they used pigments such as red oxide (used as barn paint), and carbon black (used in car tires). In 1903, Crayola produced the first box of eight  wax-based crayons, at 5 cents each box. Those original colors included: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet, brown, and black. The original limited palette.

Flash forward to 2010 (when the graphics in this post were created) and you’ll find 120 colors in the Crayola color box! New colors come with new and interesting names, such as: “Cerise” (a dark, cool, violet-red), “Outer Space,” “Inchworm,” and “Atomic Tangerine.” We can be completely sympathetic; as botanical artists, we, too, face the marketing of an expanding universe of new professional colors with new names each year.

Stephen Von Worley’s graphic showing the expansion of Crayola colors from the original eight crayons. To view an interactive graphic, where rolling your mouse over a color displays the color’s name, go to:

Stephen Von Worley’s graphic showing the expansion of Crayola colors from the original eight crayons. To view an interactive graphic, where rolling your mouse over a color displays the color’s name, go to:

On his website, Data Pointed, artist, scientist and data visualization researcher Stephen Von Worley gives credit to a pseudonymous friend with whom he works, called “Velociraptor.” Together, they created a series of data graphics showing a visual crayon chronology in two articles: “Color Me A Dinosaur: The History Of Crayola Crayons, Charted” and “Somewhere Over The Crayon-Bow: A Cheerier Crayola Color Chronology.”

Data Pointed explores the best methodologies for conveying information and data visually. Interesting to me was the evolution of his crayon color graphic. The original article “Color Me A Dinosaur” displayed the crayon chronology in a square format. The story was picked up quickly over the web, and has recently seen renewed interest. Stephen was interested in the audience reaction to the square, and, in his second article on the subject, “Somewhere Over the Crayon-Bow,” he re-visits his graphic, working on portraying the same information in different visual formats to see the effects.

by Deb Shaw

Tired of spending endless time and paint trying to find the right color? Learn to mix colors through color theory. This fun, no-stress overview workshop is for beginners through advanced participants and goes beyond what is typically taught in botanical color mixing classes. Although this watercolor workshop will focus on botanical subjects, the theory and exercises apply to all art forms and media, including: plein air, still life, and portraits; whether they’re created in watercolor, oil, acrylic, colored pencil, or pastel. Learn about:

  • The hidden values in color, and color mixing basics.
  • Where colors fall on the color wheel, and how that affects mixing.
  • Transparency, lightfastness, granulation.
  • Basic color theories and changing color through the ages (how did Van Gogh get those sad violets?).
  • Color mixing and painting methods.
  • How to avoid mixing mud, AND how to (purposefully) mix the appropriate mud, shadows and other nasty colors.
  • Mixing beyond the basics, including a handout containing the ultimate color mixing exercise.

Monday, October 27, 2014, and Tuesday, October 28, 2104, 9:30 am – 3:30 pm
Cost: $225 for Virginia Robinson Gardens members and Botanical Artists Guild of Southern California (BAGSC) members; $275 for non-members.
$50 deposit is non-refundable.

Tea, coffee and water provided. Bring your own lunch. A materials list will be supplied. Paint samples will be supplied.

Suz Landay and Kerstin Royce look over Deb Shaw's shoulder during a demonstration.

Suz Landay and Kerstin Royce look over Deb Shaw’s shoulder during a demonstration.

Classes will be held in the Pool Pavilion, Virginia Robinson Gardens, 1008 Elden Way, Beverly Hills. To make reservations, visit Virginia Robinson Gardens; call (310) 550-2068; or mail a check, made payable to: FRIENDS OF ROBINSON GARDENS.

Instructor biography:
Deborah Shaw has a degree in fine art from Pomona College, The Claremont Colleges, where she also studied botany and native California flora. Ms. Shaw is an active member of the American Society of Botanical Artists, the Botanical Artists Guild of Southern California, and the Guild of Natural Science Illustrators. She has taught art and botanical art at numerous venues, including The Getty; The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens; Virginia Robinson Gardens; and Bowers Museum. She taught illustration, digital design and information design at the University of California, Irvine, Extension where she was the recipient of the “Distinguished Instructor” award.

Deborah’s work has been displayed in juried and non-juried exhibitions, and is in private collections. Her work is in the permanent collection at the Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation at Carnegie Mellon University. She has received numerous awards for art, illustration, design, product design and advertising. Her preferred media include graphite, watercolor, colored pencil, scratchboard, Illustrator and Photoshop.

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