Friday, December 9, 2016

How Do You Work With Color?

     Do you have specific ways to work with choosing colors? I get an idea for a color scheme in my head, but it is just a general idea to start with. When I used commercial fabrics, I just held them next to each other to see what looked right. Now that I'm dyeing my background fabrics, I need to be more precise in choosing the paint colors to choose for adding layers with stencils, thermofax, and other tools. So this is the way I'm working for now.
     I pin my background on the design wall and use something with the hue I like and then try to mix the paint close to that color. My background is a chromatic gray, which means it isn't a neutral gray. It has hues of other colors showing up in it. I want to use rust colors to print on top here an there and perhaps some other colors later on. I have several leaves I brought home from my trip to Chicago several weeks ago so I pinned one of those leaves on top to use as a reference color.
background with leaf pinned to it
     I got out my textile paints and mixed up various rust hues and painted their samples onto white muslin. I wrote down the approximate proportions of the paints I used for each sample so that I could come close to reproducing each one if I wanted.
sample hues of rusts
     I liked the fifth one so I mixed white with it and that's the last one on the right. That way I can see its true qualities. When you mix white with the color, its true character is revealed. It's actually a lot more pink than I expected. I thought it would be a lot more orange. But I still like the original. I also printed each of the samples onto a swatch of the gray background fabric so I could see what it would look like. (I always dye extra fabric to experiment with.)
thermofax prints of each hue
And then I put the swatches onto the main background on the design wall and stand back to see how each one looks. Sometimes it's a surprise to see how it looks when it is sitting vertically on the wall. Another important step is to add paint extender to thin it out and print it on the background fabric to see how it looks when it is more transparent.
one hue printed more and more transparently
All of these steps help me decide which hue and how much extender to add to get the effect I want for the imagery I have in my head.
     As you can see, I am mostly not an intuitive worker. I guess that comes from my science background. I like to experiment. But, perhaps, as I do these types of trials more often, I'll know what to expect and can skip these steps in the future. Because, I'm mostly new to adding layers of images with printing onto dyed fabric. So, for now, I do several experiments before mixing my final colors and printing away. I'm linking this to Off The Wall Friday where you can find other art quilt blogs. Please make comments on their posts to let them know you stopped by. Thanks for visiting.


  1. Love reading your process, Regina. I think I am a more intuitive worker so I really admire the discipline that others bring to their work. Enjoy this holiday season!

    1. Thanks, Judy. I'm not sure that it is discipline that I bring to my work, though. I think it brings me a level of comfort to try things out on samples first before I attempt them on the real piece.


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