Wednesday, July 4, 2007

More Color

I promised some more idea about color and design that I learned from my time in business doing window treatments. Some of my lessons from that experience have informed my process of design today. Many of these may be familiar, but sometimes we need reminding of those least I do!

1. Rule of three. When in doubt think three. Three colors in a space, on a piece, or in a garden. A main color, a secondary color and an accent color. This often goes for elements as well as color. An example that immediately comes to mind is this pin that was recently featured on Polymer Clay Daily by Julie Picarello. Three colors, three faces. A wonderful balance.

2. Except for when it is one. Monochromatic schemes are often used in decorating. But in order for it to be successful there does need to be something to create visual and other interest....texture, and an accent color. This Ginko Pin by Donna Kato, is a great example of monochromatic design. There are variations in green, and the striped pattern gives the same effect that texture would in a room. What really gives it some life is the touches of yellow distributed in the leaf. Notice too, the form becomes central when using the monochromatic scheme in a piece. The same striped pattern on a simple square would not be as interesting in a monochromatic form as it is in this curvaceous leaf.

3. Spread it around. One of the biggest errors I saw when I was visiting people's homes was when a secondary or accent color that was not adequately distributed around a room. When this happens, your eye gets stuck in a spot where that color is located. Wow, nice rug! Really nice rug! your eyes can't seem to get off that one strong colored element in a room. It may well have complemented other elements in the room, but with out the color showing up in other places in the room, at different levels, and areas of the room, we can find our eye getting fixated in that place. In one case where this happened, a few throw pillows, and a picture on the wall with a matte in the color of the rug was all it took to balance the room.

In Julia Sober's beautiful box shown here, she uses this idea of distribution beautifully. The black, and the vibrant colors are in balance. Your eye does not get stuck in anyone spot. It travels over the piece, again and again. She also balances the form with the repetition of shapes and forms.

4. Symmetry is nice, but asymmetry can be more interesting. Work that is asymmetrical causes us to be more drawn in sometimes. We want to understand what is going on. Done to extreme it can be annoying. But done right, and it is intriguing.
The artist who comes to mind immediately for me is Jeff Dever. He is a master of asymmetry. Notice how he uses a blue cord, to balance out the blue pod. And the red dots on the blue pod are found in the outer pods. Small details that make a big difference. Many artists would have put the blue pod in the center, and then placed an even number of pods on either side, with the size decreasing in a balanced way. But the combination Jeff uses in this piece is one tht is not instantly understood in the same way. It works beautifully, but we instinctively feel the need to study it to better understand it.
Another example of this is Julie's pin above. The divide between the faces, and the stripes is about thirds, rather than half. Visually this a more interesting balance than 50:50.
Look around and see where you can see various examples of any or all of these. Look at your own work for examples of where these things are working, or not....
I hope these rules or guides are as helpful to you as they have been to me.
BTW, Happy 4th of July!

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