Monday, January 28, 2013

A Color Theory Quilt: There's a Bull in the China Shop

Let's get one thing straight.  I am not fond of blue and white know, the ones that look like someone's nice china?  I don't think they're ugly per-say, but let's just say those fancy pantsy florals just aren't my gig.  I can appreciate that they're pretty, but to me they're just flat and boring.  Every quilt I've seen with those prints as the focus have been very monochromatic, very elegant, very tame.  But recently, I learned they don't have to be tame or boring.

There was a blue and white line that came into the shop, and when I saw it, I believe my words were something like "bleeeh."  Articulate, I know.  I didn't think much of it beyond that.  But when mom was having me edit the Newsletter, when she was discussing those pieces, she mentioned turning it on it's ear and pairing it with magenta, lime or orange to give it a little kick. Magenta and lime would look nice, but orange? Fine, Mom, you got me.  I was interested.  So I tottered into the batik room, grabbed a bright coral orange and grabbed one of the new blue and whites and...well...the rest is history.

If you look at your handy dandy color wheel (or, if you're just really into color theory) you know that blue and orange are opposites on the color wheel - complementary colors. That means that they're going to amplify each other, giving you the makings for a bright composition.  This quilt exemplifies how complementary colors play with one another, and how color placement effects the way the eye percieves pattern.

Here is a smattering of the blocks.  Each has a blue half, and an orange half. The middle block is the one that inspired the rest of the quilt. LOVE that combination.

Here are 2 examples of how complementary colors change each other depending on where you place them.  This quilt has alternating, concentric diamonds.  Look what happens if you start with an orange diamond in the center (left).  The blue diamond almost gets lost on the orange background.  Orange becomes the dominant player, and while I much prefer orange to blue, this looks chaotic to me.  To my eye, it's difficult to focus on the pattern because each fabric is screaming for attention - this is due to orange being a highly reflective color, and the eye has natural difficulty staying focused on reflective colors because they force the eye to move.

Yet, when you start with blue in the center (right), the orange diamond appears to float on a sea of blue.  It's a little calmer for the eye to focus on, because the blue becomes the dominant color.  It isn't as reflective as the orange, and this allows the fabrics to play a little more harmoniously rather than and each of the fabrics competing with each other.

Here is the finished product (right). Well, the quilt top anyway.  Once I got it all together, the blue became the dominant force and the orange is just that kick f color that the blue and white desperately needs.  I love the way the batiks and blended oranges (and magenta) pop in contrast to the extremely busy patterns in the blue and white fabrics.  I just gave it away for Frances to quilt today.  We picked out a really fantastic pattern and some gorgeous thread...I cannot wait to get this puppy finished and hung up!


  1. Could you post the name of this quilt

    1. It is "Tower Bridge" by Villa Rosa Designs.


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