Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Color Choices - Book Review

This book by Stephen Quiller was published in 1989 so is likely to be found only as a second hand book.

This is another key book I used to study color, and the second in my series of three books. Quiller is a painter and uses color very successfully as seen in the many examples of his points throughout the book. For the painter, Quiller has a color wheel that is terrific, with 68 specific colors that are keyed to their pigmented names. For the painter, he gives specific examples of paints by brand names for watercolor, acrylic and oil. Dyers may find this useful as well.

His book was where I learned about mixing colors and the degree of warmth or coolness in reds, yellows and blues. That you can't just mix any blue with any yellow and get the green you want.

For a fiber artist like myself, the examples of why some neutrals appear deadly dull and some are vibrant goes beyond specific paints. Now that I work with inks, his advice on how to obtain subtle but lively neutrals comes in very handy. One of the most useful aspects of the book are the many studies illustrating different effects from small color changes.

He gives 5 basic color schemes with lots of studies, diagrams and completed paintings to illustrate each of them. The book also has a number of exercises for the reader to use to develop one's own sense of color, which for Quiller is a matter of seeing.

Quiller also provides guidelines for developing one's own color style and discusses dozens of color masters over the ages to examine how they used colors. The book concludes with a chapter on color usage by Master Colorists across the ages including Rembrandt, Vermeer, Turner, Blake, Van Gogh, and up to O'Keeffe, Wyeth, and concluding with Wolf Kahn.

This was the book that taught me to consider the emotional impact that I wanted a piece of work to achieve, and to structure my color palette for the piece around that. For example, I had long wanted to do a piece on the salt water marsh and tried for several years to create one. None worked. I kept trying to do it with marshy, muddy, realistic colors. Quiller's book helped me see that the color of mud did not convey the sense of mystery and wonder that I felt for the marshland. So the piece I created is a Blue-Orange complementary color scheme.

Next time I will add to this review of books. The third book on color will be by Betty Edwards who wrote Drawing from the Right Side of the Brain.

Dear reader, thanks so much for reading and please let me know if these book reviews are interesting or valuable to you. If they are I will keep posting about the books I find helpful in my early development and today.


Color Studies and Resources

When I began creating art quilts, I really had a lot to learn. While much of what I needed to know was the crafting of a quality piece, the most difficult element to learn was how to design a piece of art that I could feel good about.

One of the first aspects I studied in some depth was the use of color. Three different books made a tremendous difference in my comfort level with this aspect of the art quilt.
This posting is on one of them. I will cover the other books in later postings.

The first book was one by Joen Wolfrom, The Magical Effects of Color, published in 1992. I have read it cover to cover several times, and when I want to obtain specific effects, I have often referred back to her discussions on how to use color expressively, or to create luminosity or other special effects.

This was my first color book and was a great place to start as she illustrated her points with quilts from many different quilters, both traditional and art quilts. She covered each of the primary and secondary colors and what they could do in different combinations. She also had excellent information on value and how to use it. This was the resource that taught me the difference in tints, tones, shades and hues.

A real eye opener for me was her discussion of the impact of tints that were somewhat grayed or yellowed, as if using a non bleached muslin for background.

Chapter 10 has exercises to help develop your eye for color and are well worth doing.

Dear Reader, please let me know if you find this review helpful and if you would like to see comments on other books that have been important in my development as an artist.

Thanks for reading.


Holiday Wishes

Happy Holidays to All

Hoping that the peace and joy of the season is with you and yours.

And may your coming year be as bright and fruitful of all you desire as these berries.