Project 3 Stage 3 – Recording colours accurately

This has been a challenging Stage, which continues as I attempt to record my results. Most of these photos I took inside under a “daylight” lamp with no flash, partly for convenience (the sun is playing with the clouds) and partly because this is the light under which I work. Reasonable light for work, not good for photography  – improving my setup has been on the to-do list for a while.

Exercise 1

This was further time spent mixing colours, both intense saturated colour and the duller and paler colours. I started with one of my favourite combinations – lemon yellow and violet.

On the left is the page of paint mixing (gouache). On the right is a photo of the dyeing I did back in January which developed into the colour gamp shawl. The same colours are in the back row. You can see more of the shawl in a series of posts including this one.

I didn’t spend a lot of time on the exercise, although I did buy and try out some acrylic paints for the first time. The gouache paints come in small tubes and I tend to work in dinky little amounts with them. I’m hoping the larger acrylic tubes will help me to become a bit more expansive and free in my painting. Another example of the brain and eye influencing each other, like the stage 2 colour perception experiments (and the size of dinner plates vs appetite).

Exercise 2

This required glueing down an 8 cm square piece of patterned fabric, then mixing paints to match around the edges. My fabric stash is mainly solid colours or hand dyes, so I bought a fat square of quilter’s cotton – rather ugly, but the best I could find in a lunch break. Mixing and matching colours, allowing for colour change on drying etc is very tricky. I used a hairdryer on little samples at the edge of the page and still didn’t get anything spot on.

Exercise 3

This took the idea one step further. Instead of a printed fabric with a limited number of colours, we were asked to mix colours that we could see in a postcard or image. I used the cover of an old calendar,  an image of central Australia. I really love the colours in the image.

Overall I am fairly happy with the colours I was able to mix, with the exception of the irritating yellow ochre that I carelessly put over the background rock colour. I wanted it next to the middle ground brown.

Given the scale and detail of the photo, it was difficult to select specific colours to mix. The focus was meant to be on recording colour, not trying to copy the image. Given the recent experience of the interaction of colours next to each other, this seemed harder in some ways. I kept colours generally in the same relative positions as the photo, just to help keep track of what was going on. The biggest thing missing in my attempt are some of the darker tones in the foreground.

Exercise 4

Now the jump to matching colours from three dimensional objects.

We were asked to put a few objects on a piece of coloured paper, spend some time looking and concentrating on the colours seen, and mix and record them as brushstrokes of colour.

This is my first attempt. Those few dabs of paint are the result of maybe 90 minutes of effort! It was really difficult to look at the colours – I kept getting that shimmery effect from after images etc. Plus there were just so many colours in those pieces of fruit, even before any reflections or interactions. I couldn’t manage with the amount of input, so ended creating a small peephole in a piece of mid-grey paper and holding that in front (being careful not to block any light). Finally I realised the late afternoon light through the window had entirely changed the colours I was seeing and I gave up in disgust valiantly retreated to regroup and fight another day.

Here is today’s effort.

Given yesterday’s struggle I wanted to simplify as much as possible. The vegetables are much more consistent in their colouring than the fruit. I also propped up some white cardboard behind, to reduce the influence of light from the window. The course notes suggest spending as long as one can on the exercise, and I decided 2 sessions of 1 hour each was a fair goal.

The blue in the top left shouts badly – it was the last thing I did and I didn’t take enough care. Generally there was a tendency to mix a colour, adjust it a little, then say “can I see this somewhere? Good enough”. I’m pleased with the garlic, not so much in these photos but in life I thought it a good result.

Freestyle rosepath bag

Overall this Stage was much more difficult than I expected. I’ve done quite a bit of colour mixing in the past (in dye mostly) and I generally like my results. One major difference is that I don’t try to match – not even a previous dyelot (after all, even large commercial ventures tell you to buy enough wool in one dyelot for the whole jumper). Another is that I tend to go from memory and emotion – for example the bag on the right was woven on the theme “autumn” (more on that project here).

The next Stage is Colour moods and themes which might come more easily, though I won’t count on it. I want to keep working on my colour recording, so I’ll do some followup in my sketchbook. The class exercises combined colour observation with colour mixing. I’m planning to simplify further by working in collage.

3 Responses to “Project 3 Stage 3 – Recording colours accurately”


  1. 1 Claire B November 28, 2011 at 6:34 am

    Exercise 2 is looking really good Judy. Great colour matching.
    Your regular email address is bouncing back, sent you a message twice yesterday, both times returned.
    Claire.

  2. 2 Jane December 23, 2011 at 6:55 am

    I like your dab picture of the vegies – has a lovely free style to it


  1. 1 Mixing yellow « Fibres of Being Trackback on November 29, 2011 at 3:28 pm

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