Thursday, July 10, 2014

color and proportions

flamingo hues
Look at this picture from a website called    design-seeds.
If you know me at all you know I love a flamingo. My friend Linda also knows that, and sent me the link to the picture above.
See what the website has shown? They took the colors in the photo and show them at the side in big slabs.

I love the picture but not the slabs of colors together taken directly from the photo. I wondered why...

 Colors that look so lovely in nature are not in equal proportions as shown in the slabs on the side.

 I may like them together in nature but not in equal amounts. This is good to realize when making quilts and other art.

Say you are deciding what colors to put in a quilt, you might go shopping and lay bolts on top of each other in a stack to decide if they go together. The trouble is you are looking at equal amounts of colors being expressed and a quilt pattern will rarely have equal amounts of color, they'll have accent color in small amounts, like the black above. They will have a main color, like the blues above.

When choosing fabrics to use we need to take this into account, don't we? Anyone have a story about a quilt that seemed so good on paper but went wrong in the sewing because of this? LeeAnna
want to see more color discussions? click here for posts


  1. I went through exactly the same reasoning when I first saw this kind of color sampled photo.

    I like the simple array of colors better than the sort that gives hundreds (who has that much shopping time?:) - you can always vary your choices of _exactly_ which brown you opt for ... but the idea of what proportion of each color you really use in the final quilt is important - and probably unique to each artist.

    :) Linda

  2. Hi LeeAnna,
    It's like planning and planting a garden. But it's easier to replant after a year if it's not quite "right"!
    Take care,

  3. Oh, this is a great post. I guess the colours were generated by a computer programme and no one had thought proportions mattered. But I think this is where the skill comes in: a great piece of fabric, or quilt, (or painting...) can make me look differently at the colours in it, maybe make me appreciate one I wouldn't naturally be drawn to. I think that can be an intuitive thing - so while you could measure the amount of each colour in the picture, someone who's really comfortable, and good, with colour will make them sing together without thinking it through to that extent.

  4. I love that you wrote about this! I was just playing with color proportions today while planning fabrics for a mystery quilt project. I wondered as I was playing with this concept, "How many others think about the proportions of color?"

  5. Good post. I am very intrigued with colors and the proportions of colors. I love the flamingo picture, and that flamingo pink is one of my favorite colors, but a little of it goes a long way. It changes the palette of the picture from restful to jarring when overused.

    That's why the design wall is such a good tool. You can play with the colors, walk away, look at them, and then tweak the palette.