Painting with Many Colours

by | Mar 26, 2013 | Fibre Arts, Spinning, Weaving

Maybe “painting” with fiber is a bit of a stretch but those of us that work with yarns deal with the same challenges as painters.  We also have challenges that are unique to our medium. 

detail of unbalanced weave

In weaving, the colour in the warp will blend with the colour in the weft.  This gives an equal mix if the cloth is a balanced weave.  If the weave structure produces an unbalanced mix the result is a colour that involves a different proportion of warp versus weft.
Close observation may reveal the individual hues but viewed at a distance the overall impact can be quite different.  Sometimes this is a planned event that results in great depth of colour.  It can also be a pleasant surprise when yarns are selected for their individual beauty.  But sometimes a beautiful warp is turned into mud by an unhappy choice for the weft.
Spinners are able to blend fiber of different hues in different proportions in order to produce a yarn of a specific colour.  As with weaving, a close view may show a beautiful mix of different hues but at a distance the overall effect can be a surprise, sometimes pleasant and sometimes not.

double weave

 We can learn a lot about colour theory from books.  Studying works of art is also a good way to learn how colour is used with composition to tell a story.  You can train your eye to see colour nuances in nature or photographs like the one of this tree trunk.  At some point, however, you have to put down the colour pencils, dive into your stash and start experimenting.

colour gamp

 That is what prompted our guild president to suggest a GUILD COLOUR CHALLENGE.  The goal of the challenge was to create a design that involved multiple colour interactions using at least 3 colours. 
Some folks kept to the 3 colour guide line but this table runner really pushes the experiment to the limit.

We all have our preferred pallets.  You can see it in our choice of clothing and in our houses.  When we work in our favourite colour range we are more likely to be satisfied with the final product.  Maybe it is because we have honed our ability to create pleasing combinations in a limited range.  Maybe it is simply because those colours make us feel good.  There can be a practical reason for limiting your pallet, if items must match your decor or wardrobe but it can also be boring.  So, if you want a real colour challenge pick a colour that you just hate and see if you can create something exciting using it.

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