Sunday, December 26, 2010

Mixing Colors Like a Pro

This is the third in the series of books on color. Betty Edward's color book, published in 2004, was a real break through for me in understanding how to mix colors to get what I want. Using language as simply as in her earlier books on drawing, she explains the concepts and importance of value and how colors relate to one another.

Her color wheel includes tertiary colors as well as the primary and secondary colors. Just learning that in order to mix colors you must first name them in terms of their hue, value and intensity was a real lesson that helped clarify a lot for me.

With a few key supplies, you can move through a number of exercises that build skills and your eye as you work through them. This is definitely a book whose exercises are worthwhile actually doing instead of simply reading them.

Edwards has some sophisticated exercises that are very useful using patterned fabric as a basis for mixing colors. In the first exercise in this chapter you start with a snippet of the patterned fabric, and you mix colors to match the fabric. The remaining exercises demonstrate how you can create many different color harmonies while making creative color and value changes.

Beginning quilters are often taught to find a patterned fabric with colors they love and then use the colors in the same proportions to create a quilt. This simple instruction has led to some great quilts with glorious color. This chapter lets you begin with that special fabric and then create many different combinations, all of which will be harmonious. Could be an interesting way to create a series based on different color harmonies.

The final chapter, like Quiller's book reviewed last time, is on master artists and their use of color. Here the emphasis is on the meaning and symbolism of color.

This is a book that could be useful to new quilters and experienced ones alike. If you have not made an in-depth study of color, the exercises in this book may well help develop your color comfort.

Dear Reader, thanks for your attention and the great feedback I have had to this series. My next postings will be on a couple of tools that I frequently use in color selections. Please let me know if these postings have been helpful and interesting.

Susan asked that I give the ISBN numbers for the books. Great suggestion, so here are the numbers:

The Magical Effects of Color, ISBN 0-914881-53-1
Color Choices, ISBN 0-8230-0696-4
Color, ISBN1-58542-199-5

Thanks for reading,



  1. Hi Nancy - thanks so much for these links and reviews!
    If you haven't found it yet - James Gurney's blog is one of the finest art resources I've seen. He's a wonderful and entertaining educator (and also happens to be the illustrator of some of our family's favorite books - the Dinotopia series.)
    He has a new book on color and light that is in depth and amazing.

    I wish you a fantastic new year!

  2. Lyric, thanks for the note and the recommendation. His is a new name for me.

    The book on color and light looks terrific.

    Readers, if any of you have looked at this book, please let us know what you think.


  3. I'm always amazed by quilters & painters who are able to create quilts or paintings with truly amazing color combinations--I think I've always believed it was a gift, instead of a developed skill. I'm going to order at least one of these books and see if I'm able to improve my color skills. Thanks for posting these thoughtful book reviews!

  4. Laura, seems to me that most everything is a developed skill, and I have had to work hard at developing this one. It comes easier to some as they had more exposure and incidental learning along the way.

    Thanks so much for your response. It means a lot and good luck with developing this skill to your satisfaction.


  5. Thx Nancy I did not know she wrote a book on color. I'll have to get a copy. Your use of color is glorious! Take care.

  6. Thx for the kind comment, Valerie. I so love your work. It is great. Nancy