CHoosing color palettes is easier ALONGSIDE a favorite fabric
Our Playful Color Quilt Guild members challenged themselves to see colors better by sampling a favorite fabrics’ color palettes. They gathered favorite print fabrics and their color chips. Using a playful, experimental approach, members discovered a new way to build a color palette. Selecting fabrics is an easier task when working from a palette. And way more fun!
NO palette = Maker mayhem
You pull out a new quilt pattern and some fabrics. With audiobook queued up, headphones on and wine glass full, you’re ready to slice, dice and sew!
But your color palette isn’t.
“I need how many DIFFERENT fabrics!?” you shriek/groan/chuckle when you read the fabric requirements.
Surveying your fabric stash like an archeologist, you dig deeply into years of accumulation. Does this fabric go with that fabric? Or the fabrics I already picked out? Should I head to the fabric store before it closes?
The doubts and questions could take all afternoon and steal your time and enthusiasm. We might blame it on too much fabric, too many choices. (Careful, this is quilt blasphemy territory – there is no such thing as too much fabric, Grasshopper.)
Choosing a color palette is about seeing, playing and stealing. But first, a mini science lesson.
Six million Cones and one brain
Our eyes’ retinas, with six million cones apiece, is considered a part of the brain and sensitive to the wavelengths in the light spectrum. Three types of cones help us see different colors.
Our eyes/brain translate light into color. When light wavelengths are reflected or absorbed by objects, we see a color. Isaac Newton, who also invented the color wheel, showed that clear white light was actually composed of seven visible colors that humans can see. This visible spectrum is seen with a prism.
Color is actually a sensation (hence, one of the five senses) that is influenced by experience, biology, changes in light and a mysterious transformation of neural signals. That’s why you and I may see the same blue differently.
Goethe, better known for his poetry and prose, later studied the physiological effects of color. He proved that color is also a subjective experience. Which explains why we either crush on or ignore certain colors and combinations!
Even though we may see colors differently, we can train our eyes/brain to see the subtle differences in a color’s hue, value and intensity. When you’re able to see these elements, fabric choices become a personal reflection of how YOU interpret color. So cool!
How do we train our eyes? Start by playing with color chips and a favorite piece of print fabric. (Bluebottle butterflies, you can sit this one out.)
Creating Color Palettes
PLAYING IS SEEING
Our Playful Color Quilt Guild members challenge themselves to see colors better. This exercise is part of the Playful Color Quilt Guild program and helps members create their signature palettes. Selected colors are personal favorites and combinations that uniquely define their quilts for years to come. They pull their favorite print fabrics, grab their color chips and start messing around. By grouping, moving and pushing color chips around a favorite fabric, they find matches and near-matches that work together. And when they don’t, they keep on keepin’ on to find one. Move this color chip, set this one aside. By repeatedly comparing and trying out different chips together, their eyes get schooled.
Steal the Artist’s Approach to Color palettes
Did you know that artists are thieves? According to Austin Kleon, artists are constantly observing and digesting all sorts of inspiration and mixing it together with their own unique perspectives. This applies to quilters, too: We can use a traditional pattern and make a one-of-a-kind quilt based on a mashup of inspiration.
Sampling – using an artist’s palette – isn’t really stealing. Kleon recommends “stealing the thinking” in order see what they saw. Sampling a color palette provides insight and lots of aha moments about an artist’s creation and our own.
I SEE Color Palette Challenge results!
Our members love a challenge! See for yourself…
Our members have a long list of takeaways:
- Enjoy the surprises in this process
- Accept the challenge to match colors that aren’t favorites
- Improvise when color chips aren’t a perfect match, which often makes a more interesting palette.
- Matching colors is a small challenge that stretches our eyes and brains
- Don’t have to crush on every color in a palette and still love it
- Excited to keep playing with color chips!
When I learned how to create better color palettes, the knowledge fueled a color revolution for me and transformed my quilts. Learn more about how we take you from color muddler to color master here!
Bryan House Quilts was founded in 2012 by Rebecca Bryan, an award-winning quilter, author and fabric designer. Rebecca experienced a color revolution when she used rainbow colors in her designs, moving her from color muddler to color master. Today she teaches thousands of quilters how to create color palettes. Her other love is modern triangles and teaching quilters how-to-techniques through her courses, books and patterns. Her work is described as fun, modern, playful, classic, and always colorful. Creating a guild of playful color quilters achieved one of her rainbow-colored dreams – where quilters are better when they learn and play together.