Friday, September 07, 2007

Color mixing

Last night was the first class of the semester for my textile class. I've taken this class several times, and in fact, for two semesters worked as the lab tech in the lower level one so that I could have free studio time.

The instructor and I have gotten close and so for those two semesters she invited me to come on Thursdays instead of going to open studio. Which is much more fun, because you get such good ideas from other people doing similar things, even if you're just working on independent projects.

But this semester I decided to just pay for the Thursday class. While not free, it is, as many say about blogging, cheaper than therapy. And you not only learn a lot about yourself, but it's such fun . And such a good way to stretch both mentally and physically.

Last night, however, was not super fun. I mean, it was wonderful to see the instructor again, and there are two people I really like taking the class again, so it felt like a little reunion.

One of the women does a lot of Photoshop work and prints her designs on fabric. She makes some exquisite things. The other absolutely refuses to measure anything. And most of the time her things turn out beautifully. She just refuses to get worked up over precision in this class.

We did a color mixing exercise using the primaries: red, yellow, and blue, both warm and cool, in different percentages. I've done this before, but this time we're weighing the dyes rather than measuring by teaspoon and tablespoon. It's more precise, and so you can control your color better.

I knew I wouldn't love this project, and I didn't have to participate, but I also knew it would behoove me to do it. Because spending one evening dyeing eight different colors, measured in metric beakers, means that in the next class, once we share, I'll wind up with 28 colors, or really 56, if you count both warm and cool colors.

I'll have two color pyramids to work from, and know the exact percentages if I want to mix a specific color. Which is a fabulous resource to have.

Me, though, I see math and I cringe. And avoid. I immediately assume it's going to be painful. And dreadfully dull.

The worst class I ever took in my life was this horrible probability and statistics class in college. I took it my freshman year, when everything was terrible anyway. Poor timing, poor choice. Although in the course catalog it basically said "math for the math retarded" - which describes me perfectly.

And I hated it so much. It was all, "If you have 45 green marbles and 32 white marbles and 97 red marbles all in separate barrels, and you deal 5 cards out of a 52-card deck to a deaf monkey, what's the likelihood that the coin you toss on a a speeding train heading east will come up heads?" Or something like that.

And instead of being all, oh, I should totally apply myself! I was more, oh my god this makes me want to spoon my eyes out and what the fuck is this and anyway I'm never going to be picking marbles out of barrels or give a damn what kind of cards the monkey has. And I'm much more about the Rock Paper Scissors than flipping coins. And have I said how much I hate this?

Needless to say, I did very poorly in the class.

But now when I have to deal with very concrete math and it actually relates to and makes sense in my real life, I realize how useful it is. Seriously, why the fuck couldn't they make any of it relevant somewhere along the way in school?


  1. That's the big advantage of high school (or lower) over college: the freedom to make the learning much more grounded and tactile as opposed to being so, well, academic. I really enjoyed chemistry and physics in HS, but loathed every second of both in college.

    Oh, and 50%, or 1 out of 2 on the coin. And there's a 60% chance that the monkey is faking, and just pretending to be deaf to give himself an advantage. Monkeys are sneaky.

  2. Sadly enough, I spend all day working out the odds on that monkey's coin flip.

    And, to put a neat little bow on it all, my degree is in Gov't and Foreign Affairs (PoliSci anywhere else but The University).

  3. Yes! Monkeys are very sneaky! And mean! There were these very mean monkeys who lived near a friend's apartment building in Delhi, and if they were hanging out in front, you just had to wait, because they'd bite when they felt like it. Mean mean mean. I have a variety of monkey stories. None good.

  4. gacraker - I adore math brains because I do not have one.

  5. Hmmm...

    I like math, you don't. I don't like writing, you do. I'm big, you're not. I've got dark hair, you're blond. I'm Indian, and grew up in the US. You're American, and grew up in India.

    hmmm... I think I see a pattern...

    Oh, and monkeys are fun, except when they get too used to people. Then they become evil. I once had a monkey steal a fruit out of my mouth! How rude!


  6. VVK is the anti-Lisa. I just like how ominous that sounds...

    I have one monkey story; it's not mine, but it's really funny except that it doesn't end well for the monkey. Remind me to tell you sometime.

  7. Oh, Lisa! You know around here when The Honey and The Eldest start talking about Calculus or some other math thingie that I have no clue about, I just zone out or run screaming from the room.

    Back when I took finite math which is what they called that probability class, they used M&Ms for problems. It made me crave M&Ms so I couldn't focus on what the professor was trying to teach.

    I almost blew off the final because I was sure I was failing. The Honey (Mathman) insisted that I take it. A friend of mine went ahead with blowing it off and I showed up and took the final. I passed and graduated. She had to stay for summer school before she could graduate.

    I'm forever grateful to The Honey for insisting that I finish that class. I still ask him to answer mathy problems for me. The problem is when he wants to explain how he arrived at the answer.

    Me - Running, screaming from the room....

  8. Hey Lisa,

    Maybe you should come teach percentages and measurements to my little ones at Mathman H.S.

    The real problem with some math teachers in the past and now is that they teach they way they learn. Since most people learn by doing and most math teachers just get it, they think you're stupid if you don't.

    Last year I had a teacher tell me that all I do is play games in my classes. She thought because I try not to lecture that my teaching was in effective. But the truth is people learn when they'r having funm like you with the color mixing.

  9. The word problem probability is 1 in 2 based on the primate being deaf. [the odds the monkey is dealt an ace are 1:92] Were it blind also the coin toss odds would be 1:1.

  10. VVK - I know! On the surface, we're nothing alike! Good thing we're not actually surface people.

    WiB- I am going to have to hear the monkey story, no matter who it belongs to.

    DCup - Heh heh - you running screaming from the room. You are lucky lucky you have this math genius around and that your kids are so comfy with the math. Otherwise, they wind up majoring in French and working at non-profits, which I think neither of us would recommend.

    Mathman - Oh, hi! You know, that's a VERY good point you make. Of course math teachers just get it - that's why they're really good at it! But doesn't mean they're good at presenting it in an easily understandable way! I never thought about that, shockingly.

    Pain - Ahh, thanks for explaining.

    Rich - Well, yeah. It's up there with chewing my face off, I know.

  11. And I hated it so much. It was all, "If you have 45 green marbles and 32 white marbles and 97 red marbles all in separate barrels, and you deal 5 cards out of a 52-card deck to a deaf monkey, what's the likelihood that the coin you toss on a a speeding train heading east will come up heads?" Or something like that.


    The laugh I had over this paragraph alone is exactly what I needed to prepare me for Week 3 (sigh) of the school year. My eye started twitching last week - not a good sign, as there are 174 days until summer vacation...


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