Starting Color Project

My previous post brought up a project that I have long overlooked and so one of this summer’s projects is to work on my color notebooks. I love color but it is the one thing that intimidates me more than any other element of design. And I really don’t think it is color as much as value of color. I have my favorites and I have those that I shy away from…but what is really interesting to me is those colors I shy away from I have a better time choosing combinations that work. I think I try to force the colors I like to work whereas I just let the others be.
Color NotebooksI am going to make August a priority to get my color notebooks up to date. I have two notebooks; one for value and the other for color.
I know value is an element of color but it is the most important. In all the color classes I have taken value is an important element and in one color class I took, everything we were doing in color we first did in a gray scale before the color rendition.
Another thing I learned in my color classes is everyone sees their own colors. My true red may be your red orange or red violet or even a lighter or darker value than your true red. Everyone should make their own color wheel with a minimum of 12 colors using the medium of their choice (color-aid papers (; paints, inks computer generated, threads). I think before you make a thread color wheel you should make another media so you have something to work from.
My Color WheelsI made my own color wheels on the computer this week and am going to do threads using DMC and Anchor flosses soon. I have several color wheels because I made 4 with shades (gray added) 3 with tints (white added) and 2 with tones (complementary color added).
Not hard to believe since there is more than one color theory. In fact, there are more than 50 color theories and color wheels ( Sir Issac Newton developed the first circular color wheel and his Yellow-Red-Blue theory has been accepted as a standard since 1666. But there are other color wheels and theories: a Red-Green_Blue color wheel is based on light theory and a Cyan-Magenta-Yellow color wheel based on printing theory.
I have several sources for color inspiration; books, magazines, online…but my favorites are my books. Know when you buy a book which color wheel the book is based upon, it will make a difference in its color harmonies. I try to stick with the R-Y-B color wheel since that is what I have grown up using. I like Michal Wilcox’s theory about two color wheels: one cool color wheel and one warm color wheel; I think with threads this theory works well. And I like Stephen Quiller’s theories on mixing colors; I think these help with our thread choices too. Here are some of my favorite color theory books; I have been re-reading some of them to get my mind set for August…
Box, Richard; Color & Design For Embroidery; Brassey’s Inc; Washington, DC; 2000
Edwards, Betty; Color; Jeremy Tarcher, Inc.; California; 2004
Howard, Constance; Embroidery and Colour; B T Batsford Ltd.; London; 1986
Lambert, Paterica, Mary G. Fry, and Barbara Staepelaere; Color and Fiber; Schiffer Publishing Limited; Pennsylvania; 1986
Menz, Deb; Color Works; Interweave Press. Colorado; 2004
Quiller, Stephen; Color Choices; Watson-Guptill Publications; New York; 1989
Quiller, Stephen; Painter’s Guild to Color; Watson-Guptill Publications; New York; 1999
Shipp, Mary D; Color for Embroidery; self published; New York; 1997
Wilcox, Michael; Blue and Yellow Don’t Make Green; Rockport Publishers; Mass; 1989

Quilting books are a great color resource too, closest to needlepoint because both are thread and dye based. Some of my favorites are:
Barnes, Christine; Color: The Quilter’s Guide; That Patchwork Place; Washington; 1987
Beyer, Jinny; Color Confidence For Quilters; Quilt Digest; California; 1992
Dobbie, Jeanne; Making Color Sing; Watson-Guptill Publications; New York; 1986
Chijiiwa, Hideaki; Color Harmony. A Guide To Creative Color Combinations; Rockport Publishers; Massachusetts; 1987
McKelvey, Susan; Color For Quilters; Yours Truely Publications; California; 1984
McKelvey, Susan; Light and Shadows; C & T Publishing; California; 1989
McKelvey, Susan; Color for Quilter’s II; Wallflower Designs; Maryland; 1993
Seely, Ann & Joyce Stewart; Color Magic for Quilts; Rodale Press, Inc; Pennsylvania; 1997
Spingola, Deanna; Watercolor Magic; That Patchwork Place; Washington; 1996
Wolfrom, Joen; Magical Effects Of Color, The; C & T Publishing; California; 1992
Wolfrom, Joen; Color Play; C & T Publishing; California

And Beading has some great color inspiration too. Beaders have some of the same color limitations needlepointers have…their media of choice is pre colored and they can’t mix there colors themselves. One of my favorites is Beverly Ash Gilbert’s website ( and her blog ( Beverly is a bead artist and I love to read her blog and look at her beadwork. She has written three books; two are available online (I need to order Artful Color for Creative Projects (; but was hoping she would make it available as a hardcopy soon) Her books are:Beaded Colorways; North Lights Publishers; Ohio; 2009 and Dip Into Color; self published E-book; Washington; 2008. She also has published several color wheels too that are great I own them all. Eye for Color ( are two color wheels; one with tints, one with shades.; and Earthtones and Cool Earthtones ( 4 color wheels based on tones of the color wheel.
And with Margie Deem ( has written three newsletters (two free, one a charge); Ask the Color Queens; online publications ( .I have all three and love the color inspiration.
AND anyone lucky enough to have taken a class from Mary Ellen Searcy learned a lot about color and design. A few of her classes were: Art A’ La Carte; Color Mixing: 5 parts; Watercolour Washing Canvas and Threads. She no longer teaches so you will have to find her works at local guild sales or eBay. Anything Mary Ellen taught was worth taking.
That’s about it for now, I am starting a T-shirt quilting class tomorrow (I’ll keep you posted…quilting has never been my thing), trying to get some dresses stitched for my trip to South Dakota and still do needlepoint stitching too.
Thank you for stopping by and I hope you have time to stitch today!