Tuesday, May 5, 2015

52 Weeks of Color for Quilters :: Week 1 Primary Colors

Welcome to another new series I'm starting this week - 52 Weeks of Color for Quilters! I am SO excited about this project. I'm an art teacher by trade and after spending a dozen years teaching elementary art I feel like I have some color knowledge and experience to share. Plus I just LOVE playing with color so this is going to be FUN.

My plan is this: each week a new color concept, theory or relationship explained and explored. Then I'm going to create a 12.5" quilt block each week to illustrate the colors we talk about.

I'm using blocks from the amazing book 500 Quilt Blocks by Lynn Goldsworthy and Kerry Green (if you don't have this book I can vouch that it's an excellent resource as evidenced by the fact I can find new blocks for a YEAR and only use 10% of what's in this book!). I'm going to share the exact fabrics I'm using so you can recreate the looks at home or just play around with the same palette.

I'm going to be referring to my color wheel a lot during this series so I want to make sure everyone knows what it is - a tool that artists (originally designed for and by painters) use to understand how to mix colors and understand/develop color relationships. Colors are like girls: relationships (how they relate to and interact with each other) REALLY matter. Color is also relative, the same colors can look very different depending on the colors around them.

This a very traditional color wheel that you can buy at most any art/craft supply store - usually in the painting section. You might want one but it's not needed as I'll be sharing mine as I talk about it.

The colors this week are PRIMARY COLORS - and they are RED, YELLOW and BLUE - the three colors you can NOT mix, you just have to have them. All the other colors on the color wheel are mixed from some combination of red/yellow/blue. So in theory these three colors are the building blocks of ALL the other colors!

Why do I say "in theory"? Because there are limitations to pigments used in paint manufacturing which is why sometimes I use the green from the bottle and sometimes i mix my own - they really are very different and there are some colors you actually can't accurately mix from red/yellow/blue - this is also why printing processes use cyan/yellow/magenta. But enough color theory for one day.

Here on the left I've painted the progression of mixing orange by combining yellow and red - where they meet in the middle is orange, closer to red is red-orange and closer to yellow is yellow-orange. The right shows how the mixing progresses around the wheel from one primary to the next. Since we're using fabrics we won't be mixing our own colors but I think it's important to see how the colors are created because it helps understand how they relate to each other as we get further along into color relationships.

So here's the block for week 1 - the Primary block! I used Kona Cardinal, Citrus and Royal Blue for my Primary colors - I love Kona's consistency of color and I'm planning on using them throughout this project. I used the Flying Geese block (pg. 96) from 500 Quilt Blocks to make a 12.5" unfinished block. I did use a few print scraps from my stash that I matched to my Kona solids to create a couple flying geese units that are the reverse of the main Kona flying geese just to add a little interest.

Up next week: secondary colors! You can find my project in Instagram under the hashtag #52weeksofcolorforquilters - if you make any blocks along with me I'd love to see them. And if you have any color questions/problems you'd like me to talk about please leave them in the comments. Thanks for stopping by!


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