Friday, December 9, 2011
What is Your Approach?
I spent last weekend facilitating a workshop focused on mixing dyes from primary colors. It's a class that I love to teach and I learn something each time I do. The objective was to give artists a good understanding of color mixing with dyes, the effect of using cool vs warm primaries and to train their eyes to really see the undertones in a color.
I am a strong advocate for using pure primaries to mix dye colors. When I first started dyeing, I did so mainly for financial reasons. Buying all those pre-mixed colors can get expensive! I started with 7 colors - a set of warm primaries, a set of cool primaries and black. And though I feel that mixed colors do have their place, I still work mostly with primaries. My palette has changed, though. Now I use one set of primaries. After a lot of experimentation, I've found that I can get most of the colors I want by using Sun Yellow (Yellow MX-8G), Mixing Red (Red MX-5B) and Basic Blue (Blue MX-R). (All names are the ProChemical version.) I also use Turquoise when I want a really vibrant green or violet.
Why do I like to mix my own? I learned so much about color in those first few years by mixing the primaries. I believe that early foundation has been instrumental in my understanding of color. It also allows me to develop my own personal color palette. There are a lot of olive greens out there, but none exactly like mine.
I know that not everyone uses this approach. Mixed colors are convenient. And they can be faster and easier than mixing from scratch. And some mixed colors separate out in beautiful and unexpected ways. Each of us has a palette to which we are drawn and a one-size-fits-all approach just doesn't cut it.
The workshop reminded me how much I love to experiment with color. It has inspired me to do some more color studies on my own. I do feel this is a life-long journey. I don't think we ever know all there is to know about color.
What is your approach? We'd love to hear your thoughts.