Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Tutorial Tuesday: Design Element - Using Color, Part I

I am yellow today
I shine my light out like the sun.
I am white today
Soft and quiet like new snow.
I am blue today
Calm as glass and cool like the sea.

I'm a rainbow today
All the colors of the world.

Kira Wiley, The Color Song

Color surrounds us. It influences our thoughts, feelings and moods. We anticipate the green awakening of spring, the rusty hues of autumn and (ok, well some of us!) the many variations of the winter landscape. No wonder it can be such an important part of the creative work we do. I most often use color instinctively, but I also find I can get into a color rut - falling back on the same color schemes I've used before, or only using my favorite colors. Then I like to read about color and visit some web sites about color palettes and try out some of the color tools I've found useful.

The most basic tool to use (think back to elementary art class now!) is the color wheel. (Pictured above)

The color wheel can be studied to design color schemes made up of the complementary colors (opposites on the wheel) and analogous (colors next to each other) - either will contribute toward a harmonic and well balanced use of color in your project. This Retro Bag (pictured above, left) by HappenstanceByChance is a great example of an analogous color scheme. Berylblue also uses this type of scheme in Key Lime Bracelet (above, right).

The greens and purples in kittygrrlzknits' DreamScape Hand Knit Hand Spun Art Cowl/Neckwarmer (pictured at right) shows how effective using complementary colors can be.

An excellent visual explanation of the color wheel can be found at this link.

It seems that every season, there are trends toward popular colors. ColourLovers is a fantastic resource for keeping up with what's hot in color trends and for browsing to find color combinations you like. Users can post favorite color palettes and they are 'voted' on or ranked by thers. Check out the most popular palettes by visiting the Palettes link. A useful site feature is that you can try out colors to see how they look in a variety of different textures and patterns! Go to the Patterns page to choose from thousands of patterns and try them out in different color patterns. In the pictured example below, a palette called Art Glass Screen is pictured in a stained glass window pattern.

ColourLovers allows you to create a free account where you can create your own palettes as well as keep track of the color combinations you like.

Have you ever seen a color and wondered what you would call it? This web site for painters is a good resource for finding out paint names of many shades of colors from the wheel and can be useful for anyone working with color. For example, if I know a painter calls a certain shade of red Venetian Red or a yellow is named #2 Yellow Pale, then it might help me to match it in beads or fabric or yarn.

I have a few more color tips, web sites and applications to share in Part II of this tutorial. I will also let you in on the color secrets of some of our very own Moo Crew Craftspeople and Artists.
If you have ideas or suggestions for Part II of this tutorial on using color, please email Mimi at mimifrawley@gmail.com

Note: this is the first of our new Tutorial Tuesday feature, to run every other week. The feature is edited (and this tutorial was written by) Mimi Frawley, proud member of the Wisconsin Street Team, "The Moo Crew" and owner of A Thousand Dreams Designs and author of a blog by the same name. Please leave comments and suggestions!!

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