Breaking from your comfort zone!

Somehow I started on a series of block composition and am ending with my usual lecture on color....but since I feel strongly about the subject I will proceed.  The majority of people in the US struggle with color....we are not comfortable with color on our bodies, in our homes and in our surroundings. And I am a prime example.  My comfort zone is neutrals and pastels....in fact EVERY room in my house is a shade of beige.    I   make a conscious effort to break out of this comfort zone and if I didn't everything I stitched would be neutral or pastel.

I would love to live in a culture that celebrated color in their clothing...

or in their surroundings.
But I don't and thank to a challenge years ago by Laurie Bergesser I regularly make a concerted effort to emerge from my comfort zone.....and I am ALWAYS   glad when I do as those works are among my favorite.
So whether you are a person who likes brights OR a neutral and pastel person... the real trick is to pick the colors  are harmonious.  Here are some of the techniques to  use... First look for inspiration... Find a colorful fabric that sings to you and use it as a guide. 

Also look to the color wheel and pick touching colors. This will ensure you that your piece will be harmonious. 
I wrote a whole post on "Color Seeds" which I love, love, love and has taken me on some interesting color journeys.  This post and that site should not be missed.  There are options there for  every taste...
I often use a color pile before I make my final choices... Put possible choices in a pile.. toss it about several times accessing what doesn't fit..  It's easier to pick them out of a pile then to deal with them later in a block..  If you look at your fabrics in a pile and like them, toss them around a few times  and still like them, they are going to look good on a block no matter what you do... This is the "pile test",

I do mine on a table but   I just noticed on Facebook that Allie posted her pile of fabrics  on the floor.  I think that is a great idea because you get a better perspective.. 
Remember I started this posts for stitchers who were unsure about choosing colors to use together... I said there were two "NO FAIL" approaches...  The first was limit your color choices.  

Well the second  "NO FAIL"  approach is just the opposite.... USE EVERY COLOR!!
This block is an excellent example and was stitched by Cathy LaBath... She adores color but had written me repeatedly that she is horrible at picking out colors that harmonize...

Yet to appease her thirst for bright colors she uses them with abandon  making dozens of these scrappy quilts..  They work because of the multitude of colors at random... You cannot fail making one of these quilts and the same approach is true applied to crazy quilting...

She's not comfortable choosing and controlling color but she doesn't let that stop her.. Cathy has her colorful scrappy quilts on her blog.

And there are those who are masters of color and I always think of them as the girl in this painting.
There are lots of them and do look for their work on line and gather samples for inspiration.
This delightful painting is by Maria Pace Wynters and I tried in vain to find a print for sale.
My personal favorite colorist is Allie Aller who not only thinks, dreams and plans in  color with abandon, she also is a master manipulator of color which is a whole another level of skill. She has written a wonderful crazy quilting book. 

But  a last  important point ....do not let fear of color harmony keep you from forging ahead.  It certainly doesn't mean that you can't be among the best by NOT leaving your comfort zone.  As a prime example I give you New Zealand's legendary crazy quilter, Jo Newsham.   I must share that Jo is color blind. To compensate she most often stuck to a very limited color palette or a monochromatic selection of threads and fabrics.  These techniques defined her style and should be a great inspiration to anyone struggling with color theory. . You can see here she chose only lavender and soft green.. This limited palette gave her work a  simplicity that ensured all the parts of the needlework would complement each other.

This next six weeks is crazy busy and I may get personal posts up but not block talks which take a lot of time... this one especially because I lost all the photos I gathered for it when there was a power outage.  I will try to pick up a few block talks from the archives and rerun them.  Thanks for dropping by.


Marilyn said...

I love lots of glorious colours and have the opposite problem to yours - I have a terrible time working in pastels and neutrals. For many years I'd go specifically to buy neutral quilting fabrics and come home with brights every time. But I have been trying lately and I'm finding that I'm getting much more comfortable with them.

Cathy said...

Nice post, Gerry! And all these years later I still struggle with harmonizing colors but just plunge in! I miss participating in all the RRs!

Marlynne said...

I am a color person! Not to satisfied with pastels! Your work is Lovely!

Magpie's Mumblings said...

I've never been a huge fan of pastels but being a crazy quilter has led me in directions I never would have dreamed of taking. The best tip I ever got (and perhaps it came from you) is to pick colours for a project from the silkie you use (if you're using one). That has been a great blessing, plus using a very extensively ranged colour wheel.

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