Monday, May 11, 2009

Colour : If at first you don't succeed ...

Any colour can be inspirational - it just depends on the mood you're in and whether you really like the colour you're using. Over time, I've come to learn two important factors: (a) don't use a colour that make you feel 'negative' and (b) don't continue to work on a project if it starts to go wrong as that produces yet another negative vibe ! BUT ... you can often 'swing the scales' in your favour should either of these things occur ....

If a particular colour feels wrong or gives you negative thoughts, consider using a slightly different shade especially if it's a project for yourself or a client can be persuaded. And if things should start going from bad to worse, wait a while and come back to the project later or even another day. Unless you feel positive and relaxed, inspiration and ideas usually don't flow !

Here's a personal example:
I started initial sketches for a patchwork/embroidery project in black pen and it wasn't long before subsequent ideas started leaping from the page in colour. I selected yellow, orange and brown felt tip pens as they were immediately to hand - the colours I'm not to fond of but represented the fabric and thread I was intending to use. As I put
colour to paper, ideas became slow and difficult to expand - the chosen colours appeared to 'jump off' the brilliant white page in their intensity and didn't appear to co-ordinate well together. The paper that normally faded into the background looked wrong with the yellow appearing too bright and strong as it vied for position with its orange counterpart. The shades of brown, in comparison, looked bland and more like a shade of orange - some black edges (to represent machine stitching) appearing dark blue. I glanced again at those initial black and white pen sketches for inspiration but ideas faded fast! I tried sketching a few more times before I gave up. I then remembered one of my favourite phrases "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again" - but did so a while later ! With renewed energy and different colour medium, I selected a range of coloured inks in place of the felt tip pens. As I started to use them on the same white paper as before, the ideas just started to flow ... yellow looked bright and transparent, orange glistened when next to it and brown enhanced the other two. Finally after a few pages and with the addition of some black, a final sketch and design idea was complete.

I looked over at those initial felt tip ideas and wondered what had happened other than using the different colouring medium. The answer was obvious ... the colours, although similar, were actually very different. Here's the result (samples shown as fabric) - ink shades on the left, felt tips on the right - the colours at right are more yellow based and have less blue in them and are less like those colours I personally prefer.