Friday, December 31, 2010

The Color Wheel - Kept Close at Hand

This simple color wheel is my most used tool for selecting colors. I often work with shades and tints of tertiary (mixture of secondary and primary colors, like yellow orange) colors so finding the complementary color can be a bit of a challenge.

Please note, I have no interest in the sales of any of the books or tools that I am reviewing. They are simply my personal experiences.

This structure of this color wheel makes all the difference. It is easy to find the color wanted with the structure here. There are three rings on the wheel that can be moved separately. The top blue ring can be moved to the Key Color. In this first example it is on the tertiary color -- Red Orange. In the second example it is on red as the Key Color. This top ring also indicates the colors that will blend with the Key Color are the two colors to each side. The complementary or contrast color is directly opposite the Key Color.

I often work in complementary colors, so that relationship is very important to me. Other artists like to work in a more sophisticated palette of triadic colors and they are indicated here as well.

The second ring is white and has twelve smaller rings of the primary, secondary and tertiary colors (hues) with tints and shades for each of these hues on the smaller rings. Each small ring has a hole in the center. Tints are a hue with some white mixed in. Shades are a hue with some black mixed in.

The bottom ring has one hole in it that can be lined up with one of the smaller rings on the second circle. Instructions for using the color wheel are on the back of the bottom ring.

Notice in the bottom color wheel that the Key Color is now red and there is a piece of fabric exposed in the opening. The open hole can be moved so that the fabric lines up with the closest color.

In this case, none of the colors is perfect, but we can see that it is a cool (bluish) tone of red. That is it has both black and white mixed with the red and perhaps a wee touch of blue. We can also observe that the complementary color is green.

I find that I am often surprised by shades and tones, they will fool me as to the hue they spring from. This little tool really helps.

You can find this specific tool at many quilt shops and shows; similar color wheels can be found at your local art supply store.

Dear Reader, Hope this has been helpful. Please let me know if it has or if you have any questions.

Next time I will review Color Aids, an artist tool that I find really valuable when the color wheel does not quite do the job.
Thanks for reading.


PS Turns out that this color wheel is no longer available. A similar one is available that has larger peak holes and a rectangular display of each of the colors and their tints and shades. I will post a link for this one in my next blog posting. Thanks for reading.

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,