Do you color? Or, I guess, more accurately I'm asking do you do color?

I'm not knocking all those great neutral people out there that are adventurous enough to wear only shades between brown and off white. (Yawn!) But, that ain't me.

When made fun of for wearing a pink shirt one day...okay, it wasn't really pink, it was red lines on a white background that read as pink...I replied that with all the things in the world to fear; economic collapse, terrorism, inattentive drivers, and every Tom, Dick and Harry has a gun; I refuse to be afraid of a color.

I stick with that. I am not afraid of color. This came up for me this week while planning my gardens for the year. But, it really started a few weeks ago at LD's birthday party. LD used to be somehow connected with professional landscaping. I don't know all that story yet, but I know she loves plants, so much so that she was going to open a nursery a few years ago. She still helps people with their landscaping and helped my mentor, Jen, work in her yard and come up with a landscaping plan. Anyway, at the party, LD and Jen were talking about their landscaping experience together and LD commented that what Jen lacked in landscaping skill, she more than made up for because she knew how to use COLOR. One of the other things we laughed about at the party was my use of color. I looked at Jen and asked her how she let me make all those badly colored quilts when i was starting and she replied that "color was not your strong suit in the begining."

I'll rush through the thought progress...color in Jen's landscaping->color in quilts->color in the storytime stars baby quilt->color in my own landscaping->scrap quilts->one color quilts->pink phlox, blue plumbago and purple coneflower.

The mind works in mysterious ways. And, applying those thoughts...

I've got a great combination of bright colors going on in the storytime stars quilt. That's what I want in a baby quilt. Lots of color to look at and shapes to touch. All pulled together with a pleasing neutral, in this case, a light blue (and yes, I do believe that even red can be used as a neutral...but maybe not yellow). That's a good scrap quilt to me.

But, there are some scrap quilts that have colors that just SCREAM together and make my eyes twitch. And, no slam against what anybody else likes, but quilts that use all large scale, bold colors and have no place for the eye to rest...nothing can stand out on those and grab my attention because it all competes.

As much as I like scrap work, my favorite work is always going to be more monochromatic; three or four shades of the same color...three greens in particular. Dark, medium and light. Working together. Because I am a firm believer that while color gets all the credit, it's value and scale that do all the work. And, for me, that's expressed best in several shades of the same color used in a quilt, letting the values show off the piecing.

Oh, I'm going to make scrap quilts because scraps are the natural outpouring of all other types of sewing...sorta like the gift that keeps on giving. But, as I cut my scraps, I will think about how I used those three blues together in a quilt with a brown to set them off. Or something similar.

So, how did I get from there to gardening? I've always "scrap" gardened. Buy a couple of pots of this and a couple of pots of that and find a place where they'll live and if it's not the first place I plant them, then move them around until they find a place to be happy or die. And, what didn't die, multiplied like...well, like scraps (or rabbits...or coathangers). So, now, the plants that are happy have made divisions and those have made divisions and now, I have an abundance of plants that like the climate and will survive semi-drought conditions.

But, what do I do with them? This year, I'm trying to be more planful. I'll group those three shades of green leaves together in a small spot and call it a flowerbed, I also try to include three different scales of leaves; something broad, something narrow and something short. Those greens will be there from spring to fall. Then, on top of that, and changing with the seasons, add other colors. Early in spring I'll have orange and red and yellow daylilies. Then, when they die off, pink from the phlox along with a dark pink coneflower, dark pink dahlias, blue plumbago, red roses. And, when that's gone, melon colored shrimp plant until the first freeze.

In another bed; a more sunny and hot bed; all reds, oranges and yellows against greens that range from a gray-green to purple-green. Cannas and roses and firestalk and columbine, hot colors in a hot spot. And, for greens; century plant and other cacti and native grasses.

And, along the other side, we move into a shade bed that gets us back to the pinks and purples that show up so well in darker spaces.

Someone commented not long ago that they liked how I make quilting a part of my life. I do. And, what I learn about quilting, I use other places. Because I color and I do color and I love color and I surround myself with color. Color makes me happy.

And, while scrap gardening with its riot of color used to make me happy, now I've aged and mellowed and want to control the color and let the value shoulder the load. Use color for fun. Happy, pleasing color. Including pink shirts once in a while. Don't be afraid of color.



Elizabeth said...

I love color. Red is an awesome neutral and so is turquoise. I just went clothes shopping and bought a beautiful red coat ($150 retail, $18.00 out-the-door). All of the shirts I bought, except for one, were pretty and bright. Pink is awesome and I got a pink top. Color is amazing and there is not a single color I do not like. A highly over-looked and under-rated color is orange. I love orange flowers in my flower beds. Gardening and quilting are both such creative outlets and it is fun to play with color.

xo -E

Richard Healey said...

I love color but my wife does not. I am not the type to wear red and purples I love them (but wife wont wear them) I have bought her many items in the past that sit in the closet and she wears if I put it out but will not other wise. Sadly she has been picking most of my material (so they match she thinks I cant match) This last weekend though I got her out of the grove and had her help me get some purples which are wonderful for a quilt for my Daughter. I am all for bright and beautiful.


Bratling said...

I love color, too. Instinctively, I've always known what will look good together, and it's been reinforced by the color theory I learned in school....

lw said...

I studied color theory as part of my optical engineering degree-- not as decor, but as color temperature (think of stars having colors that are used for navigation.) Joen Wolfrom has a wonderful book about color theory called Magical Effects of Color that I really found useful. I was using her principals once at Piecemaker's in Costa Mesa, CA and had chosen about 11 colors for an opalescent quilt. I heard something, looked up and had a group of women ask me, "how are you doing that?"

That said, there are some colors that I love but they look awful on me, so I don't wear them. I do put them into quilts, though.

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