Color wheel!

I’m always going on about color and how much I enjoy it – especially when it comes to enamels or beading or gemstones….. well, actually, for everything!  I have met quite a few people, though, who have told me they struggle with picking colors and making them work together.

At first, when I was learning beading I worked intuitively with color.  I would say, after all of my years of gardening, as well as birdwatching, that you subconciously absorb what colors work with each other.  Nature’s palettes are the easiest to draw inspiration from, and in some ways the safest.

Of course, there are all sorts of color theories (especially for painters), and depending on your school of thought you might use them in your work or not.  The whole idea becomes even more interesting when you realize that everyone’s perception of (a) color can be different.  To be honest, I find that idea to be kind of mind boggling.

But rather than diving into color theory and all of the arguements, you can do what I do if intuition just isn’t enough – turn to your resourses!  I have two that I use: “The Beader’s Guide to Color” by Margie Deeb, and the color wheel! Although I love the book, and can’t recommend it highly enough, I know that not everyone wants a book about beading!  So, the next time you are thinking about color you can easily grab a color wheel.

This is the color wheel I have.  I like this one, it's Scott's old one from Architecture school!  This is the front.
This is the color wheel I have. I like this one, it’s Scott’s old one from Architecture school! This is the front.
This is the back of the color wheel.  This is the side that is most useful if you are looking chose colors that work together.  Here, blue-green is the key color and red-orange is the direct complement, orange and red are the split complimentaries, and yellow-orange and red-violet are the triadic complements.
This is the back of the color wheel. This is the side that is most useful if you are looking chose colors that work together. Here, blue-green is the key color and red-orange is the direct complement, orange and red are the split complimentaries, and yellow-orange and red-violet are the triadic complements.  It also shows you the colors that are analogous to your key color (in this example: blue, blue-violet, green, yellow-green).

A color wheel is a fun and inexpensive way to think about color.  You should be able to get a small color wheel for less than $4 (see Curry’s Art Supplies).

I find the color wheel particularly useful when I am working with enamels because the powdered enamel is often whitish before it is fired.  This makes it hard to just put the containers next to each other to see if they will work together!

Of course, all of the possible colors in the world won’t be found on the wheel but you can get a good idea if something in the same color family is going to work.  To me the most obvious day to day use would be when you are decorating your home.  You may not be sure if that red pillow is going to go with your violet chair – so you can check it out on the wheel first!  (And, the answer is yes, they do work together!)

I think working with color is a lot of fun, and if you were one of those people who was feeling a little unsure I hope you grab a color wheel (and then maybe the book…!) and join in on the fun.  If you really get into it, you can make your own color wheel:

I made my own color wheel, testing out my watercolors.  Not necessarily the best brushwork - but it's still a great reference!
I made my own color wheel, testing out my watercolors. Not necessarily the best brushwork – but it’s still a great reference!

Hope you are keeping warm on this blustery day!

Valerie

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