Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Culling all colors

Continuation of yesterday's post about the Nancy Crow workshop.

Nancy Crow asks for lots of fabric for the Strip Piecing I & II workshop. 60 to 100 different solids. More if you count neutrals and non-solids. If you are considering her workshop, you'd say Holy Moly! do I really need that much?

Out of more than 100 solids, including the neutrals, I actually cut into maybe 25. So did I really need them all? I could have gotten by with fewer blues and reds. Hardly used. Mostly yellows, oranges, greens, purples and black. A sprinkling of other colors. I used five out of the six yards of black. I didn't decide in advance what my palette would be. That's just what turned out.

Some got by with a more restrictive selection. If that were so, then that's what I would've worked with. Some chose a more restrictive palette. If that were so, then that's what I would've brought. Maybe either would've been easier and quicker – meaning less thought required. Because while you're there, you are busy doing. Mulling over choices is a luxury.

For a few exercises Nancy would ask for a particular color. Blue for example. But she doesn't specify a particular blue – choose any blue that'll work. For most exercises, it was my choice. So I'd pull out a piece of fabric– because it's on top, because it was on the bottom, because it caught my eye, because I've used it before, because I haven't used it yet, because I wanted to use that color, because I wanted to use that value, because I wanted to use that saturation, because I have a particular combination in mind, because . . . just because.

Then I'd pull out other colors to work with it. Here's where thought and time comes in. Sometimes the combination comes together quickly. Sometimes I'd really have to work to make it come together. Sometimes I couldn't make it work quick enough and started again. Sometimes I'm not happy with the combination, but it would just have to do because I don't have time to fuss more.

I was glad I had so many choices because I love playing with color. I could have gotten more done if I didn't love the color play so much. Love can be a liability.

So did I really need them all? Probably not. That's easier to say now after I've gone through the workshop. So what do you really need?

A full spectrum of colors. By that I mean the color wheel with primary, secondary and tertiary hues: i.e. yellow, yellow-orange, orange, red-orange, red, red-violet, violet, blue-violet, blue, blue-green, green and yellow-green. If you bring a minimum of five in each of these six groups, that'd be 30. The minimum. Of these five in the group, it is important to cover the full range of values from light to dark and cover the full range of saturation from bright to dull (or Nancy calls it warm and cool).

Some exercises called for a wide value range of a color. Try to have at least seven values of gray and seven values of at least one color. These seven values should work as a pleasing progression of a color set. For example a blue-gray would stand out in a group of warm grays, even though its value may be correct. A red-orange may clash within a group of red-violets.

The off-whites, beiges and tans could be low saturation variations of a color family. They may be a very neutral yellow, orange or red. Just be sure you do have some.

Bring the non-solids but don't worry too much about them. Exercises using them are at the end. Unless you are speedy, you may not get to them.

If you find your choices lacking during the workshop, you may rely on the generosity of your fellow classmates for giving / trading / selling you a strip or two.

These last two posts got long! I'll continue tomorrow about shopping for fabrics.

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