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One Student on How Color Theory Informs Her Work

  Colorful felt creation by Jane Pollak
Colorful felt creation by Jane Pollak

“I've been an artist all my life, with my current focus on felted wool appliqué creations. My style has always been to incorporate intricate and harmonious colors,” says Continuing and Professional Education at The New School’s Color Theory student Jane Pollak, who currently operates Jane Pollak.

“I love order and beauty, so I create my own designs to accomplish that. For 30 years I created pysanky (decorative waxed Easter eggs) using my own patterns and palettes,” adds Pollak.

In 2020, she was introduced to the craft of penny rugs during a weekend class, the weekend before the pandemic. Because of lockdown, she deeply immersed herself in this art form and has been creating pillows and wall hangings ever since.

While Pollak works alone, she employs several subcontractors: a virtual assistant, graphic designer, photographer, and a college student assistant. Occasionally, Pollak relies on the help of a professional organizer, seamstress, and web support teams to make her visions come to life and to keep her business running smoothly.

Pillows and framed artwork by Jane Pollak
Pillows and framed artwork by Jane Pollak

Pollak’s vision began with pillows: it was the medium she had been taught. As she began producing more and more pieces, she began to frame some. Now, she’s creating larger and larger wall hangings.

Of course, like many artists, she is most proud of her most recent work, which she says is strongly influenced by her Parsons Color Theory class at CPE.

“I majored in studio art and theater as an undergrad and took color classes way back when… but I wasn't sure how to manipulate colors to create a specific effect–to challenge the eye optically,” explains Pollak.

To that end, her professors recommended a show of Bridget Riley's work at The Morgan Library & Museum, which became enormously influential to Pollak in demonstrating the manipulation of space with tonal shades.

While Riley primarily used black and white, Pollak chose color and numbered her colors using the grayscale to create a similar effect. It was through the demos and exercises, including homework, from her Color Theory course that she developed the know-how and confidence to expand on the ideas she had been taught.

Colored eggs by Jane Pollak
Colored eggs by Jane Pollak

“EVERYTHING is influenced by color in design,” explains Pollak. “It sets the mood. It creates movement, beauty, and depth. And it offers limitless possibilities and, for me, it opened up a plethora of new design opportunities.”

Pollak believes being creative and innovative with color sets her apart because of her ability to choose hues and manipulate them to create movement. Right now, she’s interested in making wool felt, a beautiful but very flat medium. It's a fun and unique challenge that keeps her producing, Pollak says.

Q&A with Jane Pollak: What 3 color trends are you seeing right now?

1. “I loved seeing the Henry Taylor show at The Whitney Museum (in January). He works predominantly in bold primary and secondary colors, adding some remarkable shades in his backgrounds and accents.”

2. “I watch a lot of streaming shows on my laptop, and am aware of deeply saturated colors. A friend recently suffering from COVID-19 told me she wasn’t able to watch Netflix because the colors were too bright for her. I happen to be deeply attracted to rich palettes, so watching The Gilded Age–with its lush costumes and interiors–is a treat for these eyes.”

3. “As a New Yorker, I mostly see layers of black on the streets.”

Want to see how studying Color Theory at Parsons can help you expand your art and design practice? Enroll today!

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