Project 3: Colour: Stage 1

For this part of the course the subject of study is colour and something that intrigues and excites me but also confuses as colour is subjective to light and to how an individual person sees it when used in conjunction with other colours or even textures.  Colour is can be intuitive to some people but others have to learn how to use it with either basic lessons or decide to study more in depth and complex rules.

Colour is such part of our lives to an extent that it envelops us in its hues and has a direct effect on how we feel – a bright ‘sunny’ colour of yellows or oranges can make us feel energised whilst a dull washed out colour can be the opposite.  Colour can be used to excite or to calm or to express anger or joy or love or any emotion that is desired.  Learning about colour can be frustrating with the terms of analogous or complementary and hues or shades but sometimes as I am learning it is sometimes better to go on intuition and just what seems ‘right’!

Colour is also multicultural across the world and in deed religion and is used to express the differences unique to each and further is timeless as it transcends history. The colour of a tapestry that has faded means we do not always appreciate the original bright or subtle hues but fortunately new technology is uncovering these and allowing us to see textiles and paintings in a new light both literally and figuratively as we see these treasures as our predecessors did.  The colour of cultures ranges from the earthy aboriginal hues to the brightness of Peru or the East and indeed the mix of the West – we are surrounded by it on so many different levels it is only when we stop and think we learn to appreciate it in its true beauty.

Colour for me doesn’t just have a ‘visual language’ as the course material describes it but is a language in its own right and is for me something I find desperately important.  20 years ago I used to do a lot of silk painting (albeit it with no gutta) and it was at a tough time in my life and I have some of those silks left over – you can tell from the colours used the mood I was in as some were dull and dark and confusing, others were bright and full of life as I made choices that determined my future and yet others that were reds and oranges tell of anger  so those silks almost speak of my story of that time and some will become a part of my textiles work now and be incorporated into new chapters of my textiles life.  I am partially deaf and colour is an additional way of expressing emotions or feelings or indeed I realise I use it to understand what I cannot hear.

Colour without even lines or textures is a language that, as I say above, transverses time and cultures and when used with with textures of yarns and fabrics develops into a more complex language that can describe what words simply cannot.

Project 3 is about exploring colour theory and colour perception and as I write I am nearing the end of this first section and have realised how much I am learning on a subject that already holds great interest – the exercises are very different to what I have tried before and have made me look incredibly closely at objects to see their true range of colours.  Already this is making me look at what I photograph or just what I see in a different way.


The initial stage was to get to know the colour wheel and begin to understand mixing of colours.  I have done this once before and know to make a colour wheel is not as easy at is sounds and in fact to do the ones in my sketchbook took a couple of attempts each – I decided to do the main one in watercolours and my mistake was not letting the paint dry sufficiently so I got some bleeding and in addition did not achieve quite the right mixes.

On the main colour wheel I have marked around the wheel with the initials P, S and T to indicate Primary colours, Secondary and Tertiary – the secondary colours are the equal mix of the primary and the tertiary are where the colours are more saturated with one primary than the other i.e. there is more blue or more yellow etc.  This initial wheel also enabled me to understand the term ‘saturation’ whereby a pure hue becomes less saturated as you add other colours to it and to use the example in the course book it states that pink is a high-toned red and therefore the deeper pink it is the more it is saturated with its primary colour of red.  I also came to understand fully the terms of ‘complementary’ (opposite) and ‘analogous’ (next to each other on the colour wheel) and research added to this ‘triadic’ (using colours that equidistant around the colour wheel) and also ‘split complementary’ (instead of using the colour directly opposite the first the colours used are directly either side of that opposing colours).

Around the outside of my colour wheel in my sketchbook are all the colours I mixed to get the tones and mixes that I wanted to.

I also tried two smaller colour wheels using oil pastels and water colour pencils – for the latter I had to use cross-hatching to achieve the desired results and chose not to use water on the colour wheel to achieve the blend.

When complementary colours are mixed you can achieve as variety of browns and greys as the course work says but this was still of great interest to me as I had never really explored this aspect.


Hornung, D.,  2012. Colour A workshop for artists and designers. 2nd ed. London. Laurence King Publishing Ltd

Colour Harmonies: Available at: [Accessed throughout July-October 2015)


This entry was posted in ASSIGNMENT 2, ASSIGNMENTS, Coursework, Part 2, Project 3:, Stage 1 and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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