It is fascinating to play with color while exploring new possibilities. There seems to be no end to the different combinations that are available to us. I particularly enjoy using complementary colors next to each other, which creates drama and excitement by bringing out what is the most vivid in each color. I am always looking for the “edge” between chaos and harmony with my colors. I am pushing the limits of color combinations; yet still creating what to me, at least, seems beautiful or wonderful.
I see these color combinations everywhere in life. One recent example is some flowers I saw a few weeks ago. I noticed the outrageous fuchsia and lime green next to each other, making their brilliance seem even more flamboyant. Right away, I took a photo to remind me of the colors to use on my next print. What works in nature doesn’t always work the plate, but the challenge is motivating.
As I worked in the print studio, I used the photo and some color notes I’d made in my sketch book to play with the colors on the plate. This is both creative work, and creative play at once. It is difficult to balance, and harder than it looks. Sometimes I can’t get it to work, but if I persist and stubbornly keep trying things, I can eventually end up with a print that I like.
In the finished print here, I found that to balance out all the intensity, I needed to use some darker and lighter values and some white to keep it from getting too intense. Yet it is still a fairly explosive combination of colors. I guess that’s my personality coming through.
Johannes Itten, 1888-1927, was one of the first people to define and identify color combinations and their effects. We used his books in my design classes years ago and they are really a lot of fun and very interesting to study. One quote of his that I found is “Color is life”*, and I couldn’t agree more.
A very good site on the study of color is www.worqx.com*, Janet Ford Shallbetter has put together a huge amount of information about the study and use of color. She also has a really cool Hex color palett picker that is fun to play with.