Day Eight- Johannes Itten- The Art of Color

It’s day eight and despite fighting off this horrible cold and having a time limit today, I STILL was able to finish my painting!  Today I pay tribute to Johannes Itten!  Today will definitely be a day where I borrow information (yet again) from wikipedia…hopefully, I don’t do it for all artists, but I can’t make any promises.  Sometimes I feel like I’m writing a paper!

Johannes Itten- Looking pretty awesome.
Johannes Itten- Looking pretty awesome.

Johannes Itten (11 November 1888 – 25 March 1967) was a Swiss expressionist painter, designer, teacher, writer and theorist associated with the Bauhaus (Staatliche Bauhaus) school. Together with German-American painter Lyonel Feininger and German sculptor Gerhard Marcks, under the direction of German

DIE BEGEGNUNG ,1916 One of my favorites.
One of my favorites.

architect Walter Gropius, Itten was part of the core of the Weimar Bauhaus.

He was born in Südern-Linden, Switzerland. From 1904 to 1908 he trained as an elementary school teacher. Beginning in 1908 he taught using methods developed by the creator of the kindergarten concept, Friedrich Fröbel, and was exposed to the ideas of psychoanalysis. In 1909 he enrolled at the École des Beaux-Arts in Genevabut was unimpressed with the educators there, and returned to Bern. Itten’s studies at the Bern-Hofwil Teachers’ Academy with Ernst Schneider proved seminal for his later work as a master at the Bauhaus. Itten adopted principles espoused by Schneider, including the practice of not correcting his students’ creative work on an individual basis, for fear that this would crush the creative impulse. Rather, he selected certain common mistakes to correct for the class as a whole. In 1912, he returned to Geneva, where he studied under Eugène Gilliard, an abstract painter.

He was heavily influenced by Adolf Hölzel and Franz Cižek. Itten opened a private art school in Vienna, using the work and textbook of Eugène Gilliard as a base. From Hölzel, Itten adopted a series of basic shapes (the

Horizontal/Vertikal 1915- Johannes Itten
Horizontal/Vertikal 1915- Johannes Itten

line, the plane, the circle, the spiral) as a means from which to begin creation, and the use of gymnastic exercises to relax his students and prepare them for the experiences that were to occur in the class.

From 1919 to 1922, Itten taught at the Bauhaus, developing the innovative “preliminary course”which was to teach students the basics of material characteristics, composition, and color. In 1920 Itten invited Paul Klee and Georg Muche to join him at the Bauhaus. He also published a book, The Art of Color, which describes these ideas as a furthering of Adolf Hölzel’s color wheel. Itten’s so called “color sphere”johannes_itten_education went on to include 12 colors. In 1924, Itten established the “Ontos Weaving Workshops” near Zurich, with the help of Bauhaus weaver Gunta Stölzl.

Itten was a follower of Mazdaznan, a fire cult originating in the United States that was largely derived from Zoroastrianism. He observed a strict vegetarian diet and practiced meditation as a means to develop inner understanding and intuition, which was for him the principal source of artistic inspiration and practice. Itten’s mysticism and the reverence in which he was held by a group of the students, some of whom converted to Mazdaznan (e.g. Georg Muche), created conflict with Walter Gropius who wanted to move the school in a direction that embraced mass production rather than solely individual artistic expression. The rift led to Itten’s resignation from the Bauhaus and his prompt replacement by László Moholy-Nagy in 1923.  From 1926

Der Bachsänger - Johannes Itten
Der Bachsänger – Johannes Itten

to 1934 he had a small art and architecture school in Berlin, in which Ernst Neufert, the former chief-architect of Walter Gropius at the Bauhaus, taught as well from 1932 to 1934.

Itten’s works exploring the use and composition of color resemble the square op art canvases of artists such as Josef Albers,Max Bill and Bridget Riley, and the expressionist works of Wassily Kandinsky.

I used all of his paintings as inspiration for my piece, but this one in particular.
I used all of his paintings as inspiration for my piece, but this one in particular.

Itten’s work on color is also said to be an inspiration for seasonal color analysis[disambiguation needed]. Itten had been the first to associate color palettes with four types of people, and had designated those types with the names of seasons. Shortly after his death, his designations gained popularity in the cosmetics industry with the publication of Color Me A Season. Cosmetologists today continue to use seasonal color analysis, a tribute to 0471289280the early work by Itten.


Now I present to you, the tumultuous adventure that brought me to my finished artwork.

I started off with a black canvas, which I immediately regretted since it took multiple coats of paint to get the intensity I wanted out of these colors.  The other difficulties I had was choosing complimentary colors and getting the shapes right.  This was another morning where I thought,

The beginnings...
The beginnings…

“Today is going to be a hectic day so I’ll just choose someone I think would be a breeze.”  Again, I was proven wrong.  As I started to lay the paint down, I felt dismayed.  I wasn’t getting the colors right and my brush strokes seems childish and uneven.  Still I persevered and thought that throughout this project there will be successes and failures.  I just need to say yes and fail graciously because I am blessed to be doing this project at all.  Thank you improvisation for making me look at things as opportunities and not challenges.  And thank you Johannes Itten for giving me the opportunity to be inspired by your art.  My level of respect for this type of art has definitely been raised.  And finally, my piece!  Thank you and onto day nine…

Getting more stressed out...
Getting more stressed out…
Mix the colors juuuuuust right...
Mix the colors juuuuuust right…
Kreise Und Quadrate- Tribute to Johannes Itten- Linda Cleary 2014- Acrylic on canvas
Kreise Und Quadrate- Tribute to Johannes Itten-
Linda Cleary 2014- Acrylic on canvas
Side view
Side view

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