Monday, July 27, 2009

Color Studies - A Real Life Example

I have spent the past few days dyeing many small pieces of cloth to test colors for a commission I am working on. The triptych will be hung in the chapel of a local church and the colors must coordinate with the walls and trim. The walls are a sandy peach color and the trim is a darker terracotta color. I knew that color matching would take some time, and I allowed for that. In all this sampling, I have encountered some interesting and unexpected results.

I went to the church Tuesday morning with some paint chips in hand to determine the wall color. I figured that once I did that, I would be able to get the right dye tones. The first batch of color studies went pretty smoothly. I used various combinations of palomino gold, burnt orange, brick, pine cone and tobacco to create a pleasing palette that coordinated with the walls and trim. In my studio, the colors looked perfect.

My first surprise was how washed out the colors looked in the chapel. It is very dimly lit, and the colors did not show up at all. So, I had a hands-on lesson about how lighting can make color appear very different. Back to the studio for some more color studies. This time I used the same color combinations and proportions as before, I just added more dye. My second surprise is that even thought the colors and proportions were the same, the darker colors had a very different hue - I was expecting a darker version of the same color, but in some cases the color shifted and it did not work with the color scheme.

Back to the studio for another round of dyeing. This time the colors were right and I had a good range of light to dark values. I came up with two versions to try - a medium value version and a darker value version. Next step: dyeing a small version of the final product with each of the two color schemes to see which looks best in the chapel.

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