Color Study Steps based on the “Hensche Colour Study”

Note: the steps outlined below are fully explained and demonstrated in the classes. This outline is intended as a reminder and guide for students as they begin to work on their own. The full Hensche Colour Study manual in pdf form can be downloaded here. (This document was created by Tommy Thurmond, a student of Henry Hensche, and is provided free of charge as a resource for individuals studying this approach. It cannot be sold as a commercial product.)
  1. Use a light blue pastel pencil to sketch outline of major masses in setup, including shadow planes and half tones.
  2. Scan the setup and get a sense of the light, shape and color of the masses.  Don’t focus on any one form.
  3. Select the color plane that most catches the eye, light or dark, and identify a positive color that represents it.  Light planes will come from the warm side of your pallet (yellows, oranges, reds) and shadow planes will come from the cool side (purples, blues, cool greens).  We do not use black or umber to represent shadows or darken colors!
  4. Select the color in each plane that most represents what you see and put a color spot in the center of it from a tube color, adding a little white as needed to adjust the value.  Use a different tube color for each mass.  No duplicates.
  5. Step back and scan the setup and compare it to the notes placed on the board.
  6. Adjust each note by adding white to lighten or tube color to darken and fill in the masses, leaving some white space at the edges.  As you cover the canvas the colors in the adjacent masses will affect the way the eye sees them.  Some of the adjusting is to accommodate this perceptual phenomenon.  The setup will appear over colored, but this is only the beginning of the painting process.
  7. Go around the masses again, asking yourself the question, “what other next color do I see in each mass?”  Without changing the value of the masses, add this color in and adjust the colors as needed.  You can do this 3 to 5 times.  Smooth and flatten the paint as you go to avoid texture and too much paint.
  8. Identify major color variations within each mass and create these divisions using color at the same value as the major mass.  Each color has a geometric shape to it.  Keep these shapes.  Repeat this process, asking “what other color do I see in each division?”
  9. Identify minor color variations within the divisions and add that color, noting that these minor variations will be closely related to the color and intensity already present.  Repeat.
  10. Color modeling of the form and resolving the edges.  Note that every form plane change is a color change.