Final Project Proposal – Emotive Watercolor Palette

Final Project Proposal – Emotive Watercolor Palette [better name TBD]

We are interested in collaborative art making. Collaborations simply for the enjoyment of experiencing the creative process with another person, to create a more inclusive environment for non-artists and to redirect the value of art from finished masterpieces to the explorative and failure-driven process. We imagine that collaborative art making would harness the energy/movement/attitudes of your partner which could be extended to include remote collaboration.  The following proposes an Emotive Watercolor Palette to engage partners in painting in a new, collaborative way.

Imagine this scenario: two painters, each with their own an Emotive Watercolor Palette, paintbrush (with FSR and tilt sensors), and a water cup. Partner A is painting and the intensity at which they paint influences the colors available to Partner B. And, vice versa, resulting in a dance between Partner A and Partner B where the actions of one influences the creative process/outcome of the other. Both partners could either be in the same room, or in remote locations*.


  • Read the level of intensity at which Partner A holds their paintbrush (with FSR and tilt sensors**)
  • Partner B’s watercolor palette will have lids covering each paint color.  These lids will flap up and down at various rates depending on the intensity read in from Partner A’s brush – a faster rate if Partner A is painting with higher intensity and slower rate if Partner B is painting with lower intensity. The flapping lids are meant to indicate life in a rhythmic fashion, similar to playing the keys of a piano or beating a drum.
  • When Partner B needs more paint, they will dip their paint brush into the water cup. This activates a sensor (either photocell or FSR) which sends a signal to the water palette to pause the up and down flapping motion of the paint lids for approximately 1 minute. (This is so Partner B can actually get their brush into the paint color).
  • The paint colors available (because their lids stay open, while others stay closed) will be 3 consecutive colors along the ROYGBIV spectrum which indicate intensity. So, for example:
    • ROY would be open and GBIV would be closed at the highest intensity state. [ROY]GBIV
    • ROYG would be closed and BIV would be open at the lowest intensity state. ROYG[BIV]
    • For a middle intensity, YGB would be open while RO IV would be close. RO[YGB]IV.

This gives the painter a range of colors to work with that all have a similar tone to them.

  • Additionally, a complimentary color would be shown. For example, if [ROY] is open, [B] would also remain open to give Partner B encouragement to use a color that may be out of their comfort zone (this could be an educational tool for novices).
  • Meanwhile, this same process is happening for Partner A.

We plan to make the water color palettes on a wooden box such that the colors from the paint will seep into and color the wood over time. This will serve as an artifact of the intensity state of one’s partner over time.

Team execution:

All team members intend to continue to participate in all aspects of design and creation. Although, we have identified leaders for each aspect to ensure organized development. Dina will lead research, Jake will lead electronics, and Andrea will lead the coding.

* We intend to focus first on synchronous interactions, but plan to consider asynchronous interactions, time permitting.

** We will test the FSR to see if we can detect the degree of the painter’s intensity by pressure on the brush bristles, or the pressure at which someone holds the brush.

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