Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Mixing Your Own, Part 2

I spent last weekend facilitating a workshop focused on mixing dyes from primary colors.  (Yes, that's where my last blog post came from.  I've had color mixing on my mind for the past week.) It's a class that I love to teach and I learn something each time I do.

We used primary colors to make a color wheel in light, medium and dark values.  Then we mixed each color with its complement to obtain a collection of low intensity colors and browns. We also overdyed each of the primary and secondary colors with each of the others.

A finished set of color wheel swatches

The objective was to give artists a good understanding of color mixing with dyes, the effect of using cool vs warm primaries and to train their eyes to really see the undertones in a color. The topic that seemed to generate the most discussion was using mixed colors.  We borrowed Jane Dunnewold's paper towel technique.  You get a paper towel moist and then sprinkle a bit of dye on it.  That allows you to see all the colors that make up a mixed dye color.  The companion set of fabrics (dyed in both silk and cotton) allowed us to also see the difference in color between a protein and cellulose fiber.

You could almost see the flash of a light bulb above everyone's head as they realized why they didn't always get the color they expected when using mixed dyes.

I think I gained a few "mix-your-own" converts. But just as important,  even the non-converts felt that they gained a better understanding of how to work with their pre-mixed colors.

The workshop reminded me how much I love to experiment with color.  It has inspired me to do some more color studies on my own.  As I said last time, working with color is a life-long journey!


  1. Lisa,

    This is a class I am dying (pardon the pun) to take! I love the pictures you have on your blog showing the color swatches and the further combinations. If you have a list to notifiy people when you teach this again, please put me on it! thanks

  2. Thanks, Sandra. The best way to find out about future workshops is to sign up for my newsletter (see link at top left of page).


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