Monday, October 28, 2013

Color Palette Ideas

We've had several weeks of glorious autumn afternoons, brisk but brilliant with the color of turning leaves. I marvel at how I can look around in nature and spot color combinations I hadn't thought about trying or the richness and complexity within what on the surface looks a single color or value. So as I gazed up into the golden leaves, I saw they were not yellow, but many shades of yellow with undertones of green that still lingered. But mostly I was struck by how those yellows looked against that particular blue sky. I usually pair yellow with purple or oranges or browns, or perhaps with a dark blue but I don't think I've done it with that blue. Not sure why as this was a very popular fashion pairing back in the 60's. Dating myself here, but in junior high school these were the school colors, and the drill team I was on made blue outfits with gold accents - just these colors. Food for thought.
I went back with the camera on another day to capture this palette as well as to try to capture the overall brilliance all that yellow created. While panning this stretch of trees, zooming in and out, I noticed this lone bright green evergreen nestled within the golds. One does not expect to see such a fresh green this time of the year, and when I have paired my golden yellows with green, it would be of a more muted variety. More food for thought.

 When I returned from my walk Saturday, I headed to the studio to work on my oak leaf postcards. When I opened the blinds, the late afternoon sun highlighted more of my golden inspiration. I had no doubt these colors were in my stash (including the blue from the sky) but hadn't actually inspected it yet. Nature was nagging, though, don't you think? So I obliged by checking my hand-dyes which you see here, and my batiks too. No shortage of this palette amongst my fabrics!

But playing with that palette needs to wait. I have fabric postcards to finish. For practical reasons, I ended up cutting the printed fabric into two pieces and layered up one set of 4 (I use decor bond covered with leftover strips of Hobbs Thermore and then the printed fabric). You may remember that I was questioning having so many of these prints to work with - mostly wondering what I would do with the eight of them when finished (only one has a designated home at this point). It hadn't occurred to me what freedom I would feel having so many to work with as I considered thread colors. It may be a little difficult to see in the picture but each one has different combinations (the upper left is the only one that also has the background quilted). I always struggle with envisioning how a thread will actually read once stitched - even with the auditioning aide of "drizzling" thread from the spool across the fabric. With so many "blanks" I could use trial and error to guide the way. The first thread would have worked if the length and value variety of the variegation had been less. Other choices did not show up enough or too much in the wrong way. As it turned out, the thread I thought least likely to work well around and on the leaf turned out to be my favorite.

Speaking of threads, I'd placed an order with Connecting Threads to take advantage of their sale on their Essentials line of 50 wt cotton thread. You know how it is - you never have the right color of thread and this is such great quality at such a good price. I pretty much bought a spool of every color on sale - 20 in all, mostly various browns but also some blues, bright greens which I have few of and those orangey ones which I normally would say I would never use but know that I will. They arrived on Saturday too and might find their way into these oak postcards. Yum!

I planned to experiment with different background threads yesterday afternoon but when I returned from my walk, the power was out and was predicted to remain so all evening. Arghh - well-intentioned plans thwarted! There was still some daylight in my office so I gathered up my beading project to see if I could get something done before the light totally failed. As I beaded, I remembered a gift my brother had given me that might just prolong my beading time - a mini-mag lite with legs. I found it and attached it to the desk...

And it provided enough light to allow me to bead for several hours - to a point where I needed to mark another section which I was NOT willing to do in restricted lighting. It was time for dinner anyway and then a quiet evening reading by lamp light. If only I could have fixed a hot drink to sip while snuggled under a quilt.

For other examples of how I've brought nature's palette into the studio, see these posts:

More Nature Matching (beginnings of the poppies and peonies pairing series, one quilt completed)

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