Color and contrast, part 1

Lately, I've seen quilters using beautiful sherbet colors in quilts. I love the sherbet colors and wanted to figure out a way I could use them in a quilt. I knew the solution, but I thought I'd share my process. Unfortunately, now that I've done all this work, I've satisfied my desire to make a quilt out of the sherbet colors. But, that's no matter. I enjoyed the process and will probably use the four blocks I made in a simple teaching quilt.

So, here are the fabrics I picked for a sherbet quilt. A yellow, a green, an orange (my favorite flavor) and a pink. Lovely colors when put together.

But, quilts are all about contrast. We've all heard it before. I know Bonnie Hunter says it and so do a lot of other professional quilters. Color gets all the credit, but value does all the work. So, what happens if we take my stack of fabrics and take all the color out of it? They look all the same color.

A block made out of these fabrics looks nice. The pink and orange are a bit darker than the green and yellow. It's a nice block, but not sure I want to see a whole quilt made from these fabrics.

And, if we take the color out of the block, there is very little contrast and the stars disappear into the backgrounds.

Next, I took those same colors, but I selected them all as darks. Now, these are the values that make my heart sing. Rich colors have a vibration that I can feel in my gut. And, yes. I know how wierd that sounds, but I have a feeling that every quilter gets a tingle in their gut about some fabric choice.

If we take the color out of the fabrics, we see that these selected fabrics have more contrast. The red and green are darker than the orange and the gold. But, the yellow really contrasts with the green, orange and red more in color than in b&w.

Make a block out of them and the block is beautiful. The center star is kind of lost in its background, still, but you can clearly see the stars.

Take out the color and the stars really show up, but again, I'm not sure I want to make a quilt out of these fabrics. The quilt would feel heavy and warm. That might feel good to me in January, but right now, it's a hundred degrees outside and this block just makes me feel weighted down.

So, I pulled a couple of medium fabrics out of my stash. They look great together, right?

But, take out the color and they look too much the same.

But, if I make a block where I use the lights, mediums and darks, look at the block I get. Now, this is not my favorite block on its own, but imagine a whole quilt made from these fabrics and how the stars would POP!

And, look at that block without the color. It just jumps out at you. Contrast and movement. That's what I want my quilts to have and a quilt made from these blocks would have that.

Here's another made with a combination of darks, medium and lights. This one doesn't have the same pop as the last to me. I think that's because I want the stars to stand out and the background to recede and in this block, the stars recede and the background stands out. Not the effect I was looking for, but a nice look nonetheless.

And, look at it without the color. Those stars look distant, set far away in a dark sky. That's a nice effect. I like to look for rational words to describe a block and this one speaks to me about a dark and starry night.

I really enjoyed this part of the experiment, but it got me thinking; how have I done on the quilts I've made? So, I started photographing quilts and taking out the color and you'll have to see the part 2 post to see what I found out.


1 comment:

Barb H said...

Very interesting post, Lane. I'm going to have to try taking out the color to see if I can get my blocks to sing more loudly. For me, choosing the fabrics is always the most difficult part of beginning a quilt and this process should help..