Joen Wolfrom’s Playing with Color: Stretching the Analogous RangeJoen Wolfrom | August 18, 2011
Before moving on to the colors of purple, fuchsia, and magenta, I would like to show you some quilts that incorporate an extended analogous color plan—-a range that includes more than seven colors, but not more than half the color wheel. Just to jog your mind—an analogous color plan is one that uses closely-related colors. They are usually side by side on the color wheel, but they can be in larger incremental steps, such as every other color within the range, etc. (If you want more information about analogous color plans, see the post Using an Analogous Color Plan).
The quilts in this post use varying ranges of greens, blues, and violets. This color spectrum is a beautiful range of colors. Nature must like this combination too, as she uses this spectrum often. In the photo above, the hydrangea blossom is just emerging in soft, subtle blends of aqua blues, blues, blue-violets, violet, and red-violets. When the sunlight hits the leaves, the colors flit from yellow-greens through to blue-greens.
You can see similar color ranges in quilts, jewelry, wearable art, watercolors, and other paintings and artwork. In this post you will find four quilts that use this expanded analogous range of greens, blues, and violets. They are all colored differently even though their ranges are similar. Today the featured quilts in this analogous color range are by Chris Porter and Lois Dunten.
My Field House Iris Garden by Chris Porter
My Field House Iris Garden was created by Chris Porter from Bristol, England. Rather than using one or two greens for the quilt’s background, Chris used an assortment of greens ranging from yellow-green to dark blue-green. Using many greens in garden quilts create a more interesting background. It also adds richness to the overall design. Chris’s irises are in blues, blue-violets, violets, and red-violets. Touches of yellow, chartreuse, and golden-yellow are included in several of the iris beards.
Here’s a close-up image of the iris quilt to give you a better view of the flower colors and the fabrics used.
One of the fun things about working with fabric is the unexpected ways you can use them. I would surmise that when Chris bought many of the fabrics she used for her irises, she did not know that they would be part of an iris. Sometimes you find the most amazing bit of color in a fabric that works perfectly for a specific need—you couldn’t wish for anything better. Once you are working on a project, it’s really fun to find surprises in your fabric stash. Chris enjoyed the process of choosing fabrics that would allow her fabric garden of irises to come to life. When you work, let your imagination play with a lot of different ideas. Then choose the fabrics that provide the best interpretation of your ideas.
One of my favorite traditional quiltmakers is Lois Dunten from La Grange, Indiana. Isn’t her mariners’ compass quilt beautiful? Lois calls it Magnificent Metamorphosis. The colors in this quilt begin with a softly toned yellow-green in the center with spring green featured behind the inner compass points. Her colors continue to move through greens, blues, and violets—stopping at red-violet. The subtle differences in color and value contrast make the compass points appear to undulate.
Magnificent Metamorphosis by Lois Dunten
This beautiful mariniers’ compass deserves a closer look at the colors and fabrics Lois chose, so here’s a close-up of her quilt. By the way, this quilt was hand pieced.
When you incorporate fabrics with subtle color and tonality differences, as Lois has done, the light appears to be falling on the colors differently. Her color use also provides a sense of dimensionality. If Lois would have used only a few fabrics in her compass design, this quilt would not have been as interesting as it is. It’s often true that a limited choice of fabrics used in a design can result in both predictability and visual flatness.
Lois used the same analogous plan and fabrics to make a quilt from the traditional North Wind block. This quilt is a contemporary version of North Wind. It’s fun to see two quilts using the same palette but in different designs.
North Wind by Lois Dunten
Country Evening (below) was one of my color exercise pieces that I made about 28 years ago. This fabric art is made from horizontal strips of fabric that move from one side of the design to the other. Only the strips’ colors (and values) create the illusion of land and sky. The colors moved from greens to a variety of blues and on to the violet spectrum. The design is so simple. All hinged on whether the colors were interpretive enough for viewers to be able to decipher this artwork’s visual story. I love working with clean lines and color, so this was a fun exercise for me to do.
I love to use an expansive analogous color plan. The color range of greens, blues, and violets can be unbelievably beautiful. If this color range appeals to you, I hope you use it in your own artwork. Be sure to stay within the half-color wheel maximum. Thus, if you want to use red-violet, your maximum color range will go through the violets, blues, and greens—and end with chartreuse. You do not have to use every color within the range either. For instance, you could begin with a blue-green and move through to red-violet. Rather than using every color in the range, you can use every other color or every third color, etc. It’s up to you. On the whole, the more colors you include in the range, the richer and more interesting your design will be.
Please note: Playing with Color’s Extended Activities has replaced our homework. I hope you have been enjoying the opportunity to take part in at least one activity each week. This week’s activities will be posted in a day or two.
© Joen wolfrom
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 is used to illustrate color concepts in many of these blog posts. She is also the designer of the 3-in-1 Color Tool. Her new book Adventures in Design is now available. Joen’s newest design tool, the Magic Design-Ratio Tool is now available. All books and products are published by C & T Publishing.