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Cathy Lightfoot's Sensation of Color

Mar 21, 2016
Spotlight Category: Faculty

In 2013, Cathy Lightfoot, Adjunct Associate Professor, started an informal exploration of color relationships in her sketchbook. A painter, Lightfoot used the series of informal gouache exercises to explore color gradations, and color relationships that appear to generate light energy. The project grew into a focused and systematic investigation numbering over 120 gouache paintings that she intended to arrange in combinations for use when planning her larger paintings.

Lightfoot knew that to use the series most effectively, she would need to devise a catalog of sorts, a way to index her findings so that she could navigate through the collection, and even share the exercises as a tool for other artists.

Inspired in part by Josef Albers’ Interaction of Color in the Otis Library’s Special Collections, Lightfoot’s solution was to reproduce the images as a set of individual prints and group them into chapters. This would become the artist’s book, Sensation of Color: A Painter's Inquiry.

In the Fall of 2014, Lightfoot received a Faculty Development Grant from Otis to fund the printing of two copies of Sensation of Color, one full-scale, 7 x10” copy for exhibition and a smaller, 5 x 7” "studio set" for the artist’s personal use. The 120 gouache on paper investigations from 2013-2014 became individual inkjet prints, which were housed in two archival boxes that she constructed, with materials also funded by the grant.

“This project got me to think about things that as a painter I'm not used to thinking about- like fonts, font color, the way paper feels in your hand, the design and construction of a slipcase, the acidity of book cloth, and how to maintain concept continuity across so many different elements,” says Lightfoot. “I was continually challenged and pushed in new directions and I learned a lot.”

Cathy Lightfoot has been teaching at Otis College of Art and Design since 2005, teaching in the Foundation and Creative Action programs. Sensation of Color: A Painter’s Inquiry is on view in the Millard Sheets Library through March 28, 2016. To see more of Lightfoot’s work, follow her sketchbook blog or website

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