Color as Subject

Color as Subject

Jules Olitski was a printmaker, painter and sculptor who worked during the Abstract Expressionist movement. An offshoot of this movement was the Color Field School. Color field artists got rid of gestural brushstrokes and form altogether, instead they wanted color itself to be the focus of their work. 

For this Color Fields project, you will need:

  • A small canvas, canvas board, or heavy paper
  • Acrylic paint, 2-3 colors
  • A spatula, palette knife, or rolling pin. If using a rolling pin, wrapping in wax paper is suggested to prevent staining. If these items are not available, a ruler or other rigid, straight edge can be used. 
  • Paper towels or a rag

 Note: It's recommended that your surface be covered with newspaper or other disposable material as this project can get messy.



Step 1: At one end of your canvas or painting surface, pour enough paint to go from one end to the other. Try to get the different sections as close as possible without mixing.


Step 2: Using your spatula or other tool, press into the paint and slowly drag it across your canvas. Apply pressure throughout. 



Step 3: You may pull your spatula across the canvas more than once, but be sure to wipe it off with a rag or paper towel between pulls to keep your colors from getting muddy. You should see some subtle blending where the colors meet. If you have multiple tools available, you may experiment with them. Try moving them from side to side as you pull down the canvas. 



Step 4:  If desired, you can experiment with additional layers of paint after the first layer dries. Think about the colors you chose, what do they remind you of without being in the shape of something we recognize?