Color

Life as an artist is an observant one. I often see things differently than most but I also sometimes let my busy everyday life get in the way. I attended a quilt guild meeting last night. We had a guest speaker who spoke about color and how it can be used.

It was a wonderful talk. One filled with info and encouragement for those that believe they know nothing about using color and the basic ideas of color theory.

I was taught a lot of what was discussed first by my artist mother then formally in art classes and at college. Yet even then I knew that if I could just observe what was around me from nature I would never go wrong.

When thinking of greens in particular to be used in an art work there really is no green that does not go with each other.  This was brought up in our lecture with the explanation that we live mostly in a green world around us everyday. I totally agree with this statement. It works especially well when the greens are analogous, meaning that they range in at least three hues on the color wheel.

Okay enough words here is a visual that I want to point to that explains this better. Below is a Van Gogh picture titled Green Wheatfield with Cypress.


First you see lots of greens, dang it fills two thirds of this painting. Yet it is not a flat opaque color of green. Looking at the foreground you see dark greens but there is stroke of blue to indicate it is in shadow, yellows and even a bit of orange other than the greens you can see.

The middle of the painting repeats these same colors without the blue. There are more orange and yellow greens. A new element is white added on top of the greens to indicate coolness. A middle ground can often be the focus of a picture. However here it is cooler, a way to show depth from the foreground to the background.

This is the way we see depth in nature too, when the light is not in high constrast. Van Gough also uses the texture of his pallet knife for this visual illusion. That is a different subject for another post.

Moving to the background you see yet another repeat of these greens. There are blue-black greens that mimic the dark greens in the foreground. Do you now see the yellows both on the rooftops and in the clouds? The blue of the sky is a clean bright blue but it is also in the greens. This is what makes the green color in this picture so interesting. They are clean, in the same hue as each other. This is what makes the painting so compelling.

How does this apply to quilts let alone art quilts? It is all the same, color rules no matter what you use to express your creative spirit. If you want clean and clear colors use analogues colors. I have discussed greens but they could be purple, reds or even blues.

I often start an art work thinking of the lighting and the mood I want to express in that work. I have found using low light greens with a bit of contrasting purple can evoke a sense of the serene. Think of moss green, olive green, light tans and browns and it is so serene. This was my intent with this work I call Serenity.

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As you can see the background of this work is mostly muted olive green, yellow and purple. Yet the colors are all in the same tone with each other. None of the colors are brighter than the next. This evokes a quite and serene mood, one of calmness.  There is rhythm with the repeating lines of the poplar trees. To show that there is space between one set of trees from the other I used the same muted purple and some rosy pink in the background tree trunks.  The leaves are a muted blue green in different shades. I also have repeated the purple from the foreground in the small lavender colored trees in the background.   Finally I used cream for the foreground tree trunks and a light olive and yellow green for the leaves.  Color is important for each and every piece of art work. It evokes depth, feeling and mood. Next time you are looking at a piece of art or even a quilt perhaps you can see how the colors are being used to evoke depth, feeling or mood.

 

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