Saturday, March 16, 2013

International Quilt Day Color Study

Ever since I started working with fiber arts, I've been studying color.  What colors do I like, what colors play nicely with each other, what surprising color combinations are fun, and most of all, how do I use color in my work.  It is a study that will take the rest of my life, I'm sure.
Along the way, I've had some great teachers - in classes, in books, in videos.  

My first teacher was Deb Menz who was teaching a color carding class (for yarn spinners) at the Spin Off Autumn Retreat.  Here I got re-acquainted with the color wheel.
(here are a few of the color wheels I use now)

And all those fun color variations (pure hues, tints, shades, tones) and relationships (analogous, complementary, triadic, tetradic, and more) that you can play with.
Then I "discovered" Kaffe Fassett, and realized that I didn't know anything about color, not really.  So I took up quilting, and took a few classes.
Still a bit clueless, but wandering off into some interesting territory.

Then I found Joen Wolfrom, and all her wonderful books, and the new color wheel in which the primaries are yellow, cyan, and magenta - not the version I learned back in school all those years ago!  And her flip pad (3-in-1 Color Tool) of color hues.  Plus handy filters for helping see value (because value is valuable!  Hah!). Wow, did that open my eyes!  

This fabric is mostly a Triad.
And this one is a wide analogous spread (7 colors in a row) centered on green-yellow (far left in photo) with splashes of a complementary color (magenta), and just a hint of the other two legs of the triad (blue violet in the background and orange red in the flower centers).

And not only can you play with color wheel relationships, but there are all these effects of light and depth and distance that you can get using color and value! 

Christine Barnes (The Quilter's Color Club) has a great special effects with color class that explores these color and light effects over at the Quilt Show.  It has lessons (and excellent homework assignments) on value, temperature, color wheel, transparency, luminosity, luster, and more and more.  

And Joen Wolfrom (Color Play) has a color play for quilters class over at Craftsy (OK, I have to warn you that though she is a lovely person and a brilliant color designer, she is not at all a dynamic teacher - in fact, I have to knit while I'm watching the lessons so I don't go mad) with more great info about color relationships and effects (including some rather fabulous examples of quilts that use these techniques and effects).

And that is my current quilting project - to work through Christine's and Joen's lessons.  Here is the stash I pulled together today to complete these lessons - it's set up to work with one main color (green-yellow or spring green) so that, hopefully, when I'm done, all the lesson samples can be put together in a quilt!  
I've got monochromatic and analogous (bottom row), complementary and split-complementary (top right), and triad (top left) - all in a variety of saturated hues, tints, shades, and tones.
(OK, some of those colors still need to be sorted a little better, but I'm getting closer!)


  1. Happy International Quilting day to you too! Looks like your color lessons are paying off nicely. Those stacks of fabric are beautiful.

  2. I took a colour class in a quilt shop and we did a colour scavenger hunt with those cards and brought back the bolts then discussed our results. Very informative.

  3. I definitely enjoyed having you come to the virtual sew-cial to celebrate International Quilting Day. And, I appreciate all your insights on color. Personally, I'll confess color scares me. I know it is an area I need to work on and learn more. I'm going to create a plan of attack and definitely pick up the books you recommended and start signing up for classes. Thank you for inspiring and sharing.


  4. I love colour and I have two of the books from your top photo. As I said on someone else's blog recently, we can learn all the colour theory we like but we need to put it into practice -- experience really is a great teacher!