Considering Color and Placement

In learning to use the concepts Carol and I present in Playful Fabric Printing, I have done a lot of experimentation (we both have). In retrospect, as I ponder  my approach to using dye paste and printing as is described in our new book, I would say, at first I was exuberant, I threw caution to the wind, I tried every combination of color and value. And I made many printing errors and color missteps in the process. All of this experimentation has had the effect of helping me build color preferences and forge an understanding of how value adds a visual pop to a print.

In Playful Fabric Printing, we illustrate how to mix color in four gradations, Dark, Medium, Light and Pale (Pale is my favorite). In the above prints, (using this Kit), the purple print uses color much more judiciously than the right red brown print. For one, purple and orange are complementary colors, they reside opposite one another on the color wheel. Because of this, the color sizzles, the purple and orange push one another around, seeking dominance. Also, where the purple is a Medium, the orange is a combo of Pale and Light values, which adds to the zing.

The red brown print is quite nice, but the color choice is a bit flat. These colors are analogous and close relatives in the color wheel. A more effective background color, one that pushes the daisies to the forefront of the design would make this print even better. I am not saying that you ought to work on opposing sides of the color wheel in order to make a great print, though. Rather, a cleaner color choice within the analogous range or a more effective use of value might help propel this design forward.

These two prints, (using this Kit) are both quite pleasing, in my opinion. The differences in color choice are quite interesting. The left most prints’ background is a crisp cheddar while the print on the right is an earthen ochre. The print on the left is bright and chipper, with its flash of light green, while the print on the right has a bit more muscle. Would I use them in the same quilt? Perhaps. It would depend on their fellows. Just looking at them side by side though, the print at right makes me want to create a quilt top with an autumn appeal, and the two would not go well together, if that were to be the goal.

I am happy to say, all the the experimentation I have done has lead me to a more purposeful and considered use of color. Being exuberant has helped me to understand the difference between printing green on top of a crisp yellow-even before I apply dye paste to tool and then print the cloth. Which is why I encourage you to play, experiment and try out every combination you think up.

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  1. Jan B Gavin says:

    Love your use and experimentation of color choices. Guess you have convinced me! Need this book! Thanks!

  2. I love this post. I struggled using complementary colors in a quilt, in printing, and painting. Then I took a class from Katie PM. One exercise was to chose two color I didn’t think could play well together. I chose purple and orange. That changed everything. I saw how they could play well together. Now I add pop to my quilts and printing. My garden and flower pots combine limes with purple and orange or other complementary color combos. They make me happy. 🙂

    • Melanie says:

      Color has great effect?, affect? on the body and psyche too. I get those two words mixed up.