May Meeting: A Focus on Color

May 19, 2015
May Meeting Focus: The Artist’s Color Wheel as Inspiration

Member Erika Mulvenna (blog: Miss Sews-it-all) treated us to an in-depth exploration of color theory and the color wheel. Extremely knowledgeable and passionate about her subject, Erika took us through a brief history of the color wheel.  While we take this tool for granted, often learning about it in kindergarten art class, it is a relatively new way for people to think about color.  

The history of the color wheel is full of, ahem, colorful characters.  For instance, Sir Isaac Newton created the first known version of the artist’s color wheel, associating each color with a music note, and giving them the names red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet.  That’s right, we have Sir Newton to thank for Roy G Biv.  

Two hundred years later, Faust-author Johann von Goethe got in on the color theory action, writing a book and trash talking Newton throughout.  Later on, artists Johannes Itten and Josef Albers were pioneers in the education of the color wheel, sharing color theory with their students and peers, solidifying the color wheel’s current high regard in the art world.

Next, Carole Ann Wool led us in a series of color theory exercises.  We selected fabric scraps based on different color pairings, using the color wheel to direct our choices.  We studied complimentary, split complimentary, triad, and tetrad color pairings.  We had fun trying to match our fabric scraps to the colors on the color wheel, and even picking out our favorite and least favorite colors from the pile.  We worked in groups, learning a lot from each other as we observed each others’ pairings. 

Carole also put together a fantastic resource of books for us to reference – click {here} to open the PDF version and download.

We also heard from a few members about how they work with color in their quilts.  These were a few of the tricks they shared:

  • choose colors you might think won’t work next to each other, you may surprise yourself by liking them together 
  • choose a color palette based on a favorite photo, or page from your favorite beautifully styled catalog 
  • save your favorite fabric selvages and use them to inspire your color choices
  • draw colors from a focus fabric, that you then incorporate into the top or use as the back
  • choose complimentary colors for a dynamic look

Thank you, Tricia Royal, Holly Harper, and Sarah Evans for sharing your tips!

This meeting was as fun as it was informative.  Huge thanks go to members Erika and Carole for going above and beyond in preparing a great presentation for us.  Please see the PDF {click here} they thoughtfully compiled for a list of great reference materials if you are interested in learning more about color theory and the history of the color wheel.

Other announcements at this meeting: 

We are swapping mini quilts with the members of the illustrious Ann Arbor MQG!  The swap is open now, until May 31 or until all 29 slots are full.  Please see Amy’s post for all the details.
The member survey will be going out this week.  Please look for it in your inbox and fill it out within 7 days’ time.
We are looking for members to join the programming committee and an exploratory sponsorship committee.  Those interested, please contact Peta {click here}
Next Meeting!:

Looking ahead to next month, we will be having a sew-in day for our meeting!  June 28 from noon-5 pm at the Chicago Party Animals venue.  We will need everyone to RSVP, so please be on the lookout for your opportunity to do that.  Hope to see everyone there!

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Photo: Triangles quilt by Erika Mulvenna