Joen Wolfrom’s Playing with Color: Nature’s Favorite Color PlanJoen Wolfrom | July 27, 2011
Nature has provided us with a palette of colors that are most amazing. I believe Mother Nature’s favorite coloration includes a range of greens and blues intermingled with each other. This is the most dominant color palette in the world. It provides an array of beautiful outcomes and emotive responses from very calming to quite exciting…..and sometimes even astonishing. This coloring makes great quilts, beautiful artwork, and a harmonious interior design.
These enticing colors from the green-through-blue spectrum include chartreuse, yellow-green, spring green, green, blue-green, aqua green, aqua blue, turquoise, cerulean blue, and blue. Today I have taken the liberty to include blue-violet in this range because it has a tendency to want to be in two places at one time. It’s really part of the violet spectrum, but it loves hanging out with these other hues whenever possible. (It’s like a kid who spends as much time playing in the neighbor’s yard as his own yard.) This color span works as beautifully in quilts, art, and other designs as it does in nature. When nature uses this blue-green range, it doesn’t necessarily mean that she uses every color within the total span. It depends on the scene. Sometimes nature’s coloring is very narrow while at other times it’s all encompassing. You can see this gorgeous color range in The Studio Color Wheel (below).
A design made from these closely related colors is called an analogous color plan. To learn more about analogous color plans and their recommended guidelines, check our blog post Using an Analogous Color Plan.
Nature’s Blending of Greens and Blues Creates Harmony
Nature offers us many glimpses of landscapes that promote lovely calmness. Notice in these settings there are several green families represented. Here nature is using an analogous color plan that does not include every color within the range of yellow-green to blue. If you are creating a landscape, use the colors within this span that best fit the mood, season, and time of day you want represented. Do not be too limited in your color usage. Nature employs many different colors to enrich her scenes. If you follow in her footsteps, you should create superb landscapes.
If you love landscape art, I hope you will study this photo image to notice a few details. In this scene, most of the foreground greens are warm in temperature, but a few foreground plants bring some coolness to the greens. Also, you will see the island across the waterway uses mostly blue-green hues. The sky and water bring a refreshing coolness to the scene. Notice the darkest part of the sky is at the top of the photo—-which is the closes part of the sky to us, the viewers. You can see how this darker sky coloring falls into the water closest to us. As the sky moves toward the horizon line—away from us, it becomes lighter. The water is following its lead. This is not necessarily what always happens, but it’s important to know there is a relationship between sky and water. Every day gives us something different to see.
Nature can Astonish Us with Its Color Blendings
Not always will nature provide us with serene images of blues and greens. I was so fascinated by the colors I saw while standing on a bridge in the Ho Rain Forest many years ago, I ended up shooting this river scene for almost an hour. I couldn’t believe my eyes—the colors were so amazingly intense. The greens of the trees surrounding the river banks were painting the river unbelievable colors of greens and blues. The sun was shining, but I do not remember how it was hitting the trees. This is a dramatic color blending of blues and greens made by nature. It would be extraordinary in a work of art. How many blue and green colors can you find in this image? If you have a color tool, see how many cards come into play with this image.
If you are a quilter, you can select a wide range of colors within this beautiful color span to play with in your design. In the quilt Tropical Morning, I used analogous colors ranging from chartreuse to a blue leaning toward blue-violet. I wanted to make a simple quilt using only half-square triangles to create a happy, tropical design. As you can see, the colors are placed randomly within the design. Value was a necessary component in this design.
Here is a closeup of Tropical Morning. (Veronica Nurmi did the quilting.) You can see how spontaneously the colors were placed. This quilt is technically easy to make and the colors in this span visually play with each other. (If you are interested, Tropical Morning is available as a pattern)
Another quilt done with the same analogous color span is Star Echoes. Notice how much quieter this quilt is than Tropical Morning. I have used fabrics that are more muted in their coloring than the fabrics in Tropical Morning. These fabrics have been grayed or toned. Some are more toned than others. Also, the chartreuse fabrics are not quite as warm as the ones in the other quilt and most have a hint of toning to them. Additionally, I have corralled the chartreuse fabrics into the star centers rather than letting them run wild all over the quilt. These differences make this quilt softer in its mood, yet it is still a happy mood. (If you are interested, Star Echoes is available as a pattern.)
It’s interesting to see two quilts created with the same green and blue analogous color plan appear so differently: one is lively while the other is more peaceful. Color is relative and can differ greatly depending on the surrounding colors. They tend to influence each other.
As mentioned above, I have added a second post today to work along side this one: Using an Analogous Color Plan. If you would like to learn more about analogous colorings, please check out this post. Also, I have a few more thoughts about the green and blue span along with nature, so tomorrow I shall do an additional posting. The following day I will provide homework for those who are interested in working within this beautiful blue-green spectrum of colors. So, I’ll see you again sometime tomorrow with the last of my blue and green thoughts and visuals.
Joen is a color enthusiast who teaches and lectures on color. She has written three color books: Color Play, Visual Coloring, and The Magical Effects of Color. Her Studio Color Wheel was used in the above illustrations. She is also the designer of the 3-in-1 Color Tool. Her upcoming book Adventures in Design will be released in September. All books and products are published by C & T Publishing.