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Color 101- Color Harmonies and a Look at Value

I’ve just started a You Tube Channel, did you know that? Here is the link to my channel.

Last week I posted a video about color value and began to talk about color harmonies.  Here is the video. If you would rather read about this topic here it is:

Hi everyone, Today is the second in our series about color theory and how to use it in your fiber work. I realized that I didn’t talk about value in the last video. Value is one of the hardest principles to see and make sense of. Basically value is how much light is reflected from your work. It is measured by a gray scale. This 10 step scale was made famous by the photographer Ansel Adams. His work is so rich because he was deliberate about offering many different values in one photograph. It is exciting and interesting to our eyes and brains. And colors naturally live along the value scale. For instance you can’t have a high value yellow. It will always be at the light end of the scale. And alternatively, purple will always at the bottom or high end of the scale. There are 2 easy ways to “see” value. One way is to look through squinty eyes. This reduces our ability to see the color and leaves us with a more black and white view. The other way is to look through a red lens, like this. The lens adds red to all the colors you are looking at and again makes them more monochrome and you are able to “see” the differrence in value. In our work, value differences can add interest to your fabric. Just as we have a natural affinity for certain colors, we also have a natural affinity for value schemes. Some people really prefer high contrast and other prefer low contrast. So I urge you to look at your wardrobe and even the artwork on your walls and see what the values in your life say about you.

The last principle I want you tell you about is tints, tones, and shades. Tints are a color with white added. In the dyeing world these look like pastels. Tones are a color with gray added. And Shades are a color with black added. These will give you different values in your work.

Alright it’s time to move to color harmony. What do I mean by that? We will be looking at how hues work together. Some colors like each other and some really do not get along with others very well. Today’s harmonies are ones that are quite easy and accessible for all crafters. They are the most relaxing and calming of the harmonies.

The first harmony we are going to look at is MONOCHROMATIC colors. This is a color scheme that uses one hue but changes the value. Many gradient sets are monochromatic. They are all dyed with the same dye, but the saturation is different in each skein from tint, through tone and then shade of the color. This harmony is very relaxing on the eye. There isn’t anything jarring to look at. It is usually a gentle progression through the fabric. There are many shawls that work well with monochromatic colors. Olilia, botanical garden, etc.

The second harmony today is the ANALOGOUS colors. These are colors that lie next to each other on the color wheel. Here is another color wheel that was made for painters, really. But it show us the analogous colors. I have 2 favorite schemes here. I love green, blue, purple. And I also love red, red-orange and orange. This harmony can be relaxing to look at, but it also have more visual excitement for your brain. You will find gradient sets made with analogous colors in the marketplace. I have Tequila Sunset that works through combos of yellow and cherry to make some lovely corals, salmons and oranges to work with. And what kind of shawls can you use here? Raddiant, Maryland My Maryland, Joker and Thief.

So until next time: Happy Making!

Resources:

The Colorwheel I love:

 

Color Evaluator to use for Value:

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Color–Part 3 VALUE

No doubt! Value is the hardest color dimension to talk about. I have found that seeing the value of color is a learned skill. It is hard to differentiate and so it is very frustrating.  Value is the lightness or darkness of the color, it is also is a measure of color purity and saturation.  Here is the gray scale that is used to help determine the value of a hue. While it is relatively easy to see the differences in value between white, gray and black, it is not so easy to see the value of colors. The color itself skews our perception of the value. Some hues like yellow are more likely to be at the top end of the scale, while purple is more likely to be at the darker end of the scale.

 

 

The human eye can see about 5 steps of this scale. The “pure” white, “pure” black, neutral gray and a step between those 3 values. In the real world, there are many more nuances of value. When I was learning about value, one strategy that helped was to squint or partially closed your eyes and look at the yarn, fabric, or photo and the value would be easier to see. The squinting reduces the number of color sensitive cells (cones) that are activated, while the cells that perceive light (rods) are still activated. Try this with a favorite photograph and see if you can differentiate among the values in that photograph.

There are a couple of “tricks” that we can use today.  One is the computer.  You can take a photo and change it to a black and white photo.  Also you can use red or green plastic ……to see the value differences.

 

 

If you are intrigued and would like to learn more, register for my color class on September 6th at 1pm.  Go to the fiber class page to register.  We will be doing lots of experiments to train our eyes to be better color detectors.