Saturday, 12 March 2016

Colour all week long

I had a delightful time the week before last at Committed to Cloth, experimenting with colour, enjoying the companionship of the rest of the group and learning from Leslie, who is endlessly generous with her advice and expertise. We all experimented with mixing colours, each from her own source of inspiration. These included pictures torn from magazines, photos of favourite garden flowers, views of much loved scenes, paintings, advertising images, all the colours of the rainbow and more.

Some images were delicate and muted, some vivid and bright, we all brought or own interests and personalities to the workshop. Throughout the week Leslie talked to us about colour and shared her own working practice, inspirations and knowledge. We learnt about cool and warm colours, about tone, contrast, mood, proportion and the way to use the colour wheel to understand what colours go with each other and how they react to one another.

The first day we spent working from just one image, taking two colours from it and attempting to mix each from the eight dye colours available to us. We mixed a base colour, then diluted it, then diluted the dilution, if you know what I mean. These three source colours, light, medium and dark, were then mixed, each with each to achieve a palette of fifteen colours, graded from light to dark, from pure to mixed. The resulting colours were applied in little squares to the pre soda'd cloth of our choice. The studio was awash with little pots of colour and samples pinnned up on the design walls or pinned to the benches as we all experimented to our hearts content.

We were encouraged to "document, document, document" as this is the only way to truly understand the process. We were also encouraged to "steal" from each other, though only in the spirit of knowledge sharing. So, at the end of the first day we each went round everyone's table, with little bits of cloth, and took colour samples from everyone else's families, making notes on the mixes as we went.

This way we all benefited from each other's experimentation and colour interest; those working with a soft muted palettes could have brilliant brights as well, those working with darks could find out about pastels. Oddly, three of us, including me, worked a range from purple to green, my source being the Mackintosh Descent of Night which I had taken with me.

In the following days we either mixed yet more colours, refined the ones we had already mixed, worked on creating imagery from those mixes or some or all of the above. By the end of the week the studio was full of colour samples and creative fabrics produced with our colours. In between these experiments we were fed delicious soups and salads, were tempted by several yummy cakes and a sumptuous cheesecake, had the opportunity to browse the books on the shelves in the studio and were given encouragement, help and advice from Leslie. We also had the pleasure of sharing each other's interests and expertise, and watching everyone's imagery and colour palettes develop through the week. With such a wide variety of experience and practice there was more inspiration than one couple possibly absorb in one week. Plenty of food for thought to mull over in slow time.

You can check out the C to C Facebook page for the results and some details of the lovely work produced. My own images were drawn in part from the pictures I took along for inspiration and in part from experimenting with the tools available in the studio. I became quite adept at applying colour with Leslie's favourite tool, a credit card, tried out some of the thermofaxes, made a thermofax of my own, experimented with brushes and a bit of monoprinting and used masking tape and a silk screen to blend a grid of colours from one of my experiments. All in all, a wonderful week of experiment, learning and laughter in in the company of like minded, creative, talented women.

Maksing tape screen in purple and gold

Monoprinted blues that I couldn't bear to waste

Thermofax umbellifers in greens and golds

Credit card drawn image loosely based on Eric Money's beautiful The Ferryman
layered work in progress from purple to green 


  1. WOW ! YOU HAD FUN !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    (yes, I'm jealous !)

    1. Indeed we did Els, if only the week could have grown into a month!!! :-)

  2. Wow!! The experiments have turned out to be fantastic. The monoprinted blues are lovely,I scrolled back multiple times to look at them again and again.the thermofax and credit card images are also awesome. Have you tried painting earlier?

    1. Hi Deepa, thank you for the positive words. I used to paint from time to time when I was younger, but haven't done so for many years, so rather surprised myself!
      I'm now trimming and sticking all those coloured squares into a sketchbook to serve as my reference for colour mixing in the future. It's lovely to look at them again and enjoy the vividness of some and the subtlety of others. I'll do a blog post once I've finished - trimming and putting them all in order really brings the colours alive :-)


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