Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Primary color blending in your crafts

In my last post, I wrote about mixing pastels and promised to give examples of yarn and color mixing in my work. Despite my short memory, I have not yet forgotten that promise (yippee!) and now I'm going to show something with primary colors.

You probably already know this, but for those who don't: red, blue and yellow are primary colors on the color wheel. These colors can be mixed to create secondary colors. Red and blue makes purple. Blue and yellow makes green. Red and yellow makes orange.

An easy way to remember these is to envision the classic 8-pack of Crayola crayons. If you omit the black and brown, these are the six colors you have left. The crayons in this pack are bright and saturated and that is why they will often go together in your artwork, home decorating and wardrobe planning.

If you were wearing a blue and yellow summer outfit, for example, you would probably want both the blue and yellow to be bright or both to be pastel or both to be muted. That doesn't mean you are locked into this rule, but if you aren't sure, the bright-with-bright, pastel-with-pastel and muted-with-muted is a good rule of thumb to follow.

In home decorating, imagine a living room decorated in medium light blue and medium light yellow in a sort of French country to Provencal scheme. Or think of a children's room, decorated in bright blue and yellow. For the exterior of a house, you might choose a muted smoky blue and very muted yellow trim.

Often small accents can tolerate a smattering of colors, whereas the backdrop will only use one or two.  A pillow in red, blue and yellow--I had a photo here, but lost it, long story--works well as an accent. But you would probably not decorate a room using all of these colors. Perhaps the pillow would serve as an accent on a royal blue sofa. Maybe there is a red side chair across the room. An Oriental carpet might tie the colors together in a dark navy with flecks of red, blue and green. Some houseplants would echo the green in the carpet and in the pillow.

Similarly, in your wardrobe, you instinctively know that when you put on a navy wool suit, you can get away with a vivid red, blue, yellow paisley scarf and perhaps some garnet jewelry.

Men might choose a navy suit, yellow dress shirt with a navy rep tie. Perhaps you are tempted to point out that navy is a muted color and the yellow shirt a man would most likely wear would be a pastel yellow and that this contradicts what I said earlier. That is because I have no freaking idea what I am talking about.

But I can usually wing it. Except for the time when I was pregnant and shopping for dress fabric and a contrasting floral collar fabric with my mother. The dress fabric was peach. And I thought the collar fabric was peach, blue and white until I got it home and saw it was rose, blue and white. "Why did you let me buy that?" I wailed to my mother, who has a master's degree in art. She said he hadn't wanted to argue with me. And maybe that is also a good rule of thumb. If you think you know what you are doing, trust your instincts and don't let people talk you out of them. But don't help me shop for maternity fabric, okay?!

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