- Were you able to mix and match colours accurately?
I feel I gave colour matching a fair go, but I didn’t enjoy it at all. I found the whole process boring and tedious, mixing little by a little and rechecking against the original source over and over again just isn’t my style. I much prefer to just dive in and splash a few colours around that inspire me at that moment, I also have very little interest in producing detailed realistic paintings etc where this technique would be needed. I did however attend a day long session with a local artist where we spent the whole day working on colour theory and colour matching, so as little as I enjoy the subject I find that if I make the effort I can mix and match colours fairly accurately.
- Were you able to use colour expressively?
After spending a lot of time working from the book ‘Colour: A workshop for artists and designers’ by David Hornung recommended in the course documents I feel much more confident with using colour, although I still have trouble narrowing down the final combination of colours I wish to use, but then I can be pretty indecisive when it comes to most things! I find if I spend too much time thinking about a particular colour scheme for a project I feel paralyzed with doubt and never make a choice unless I’m pushed, so I find it easier to just get some colours out there and the project started and change them later on if they don’t feel right. I also find some colours easier to use than others, I feel very attached to blues, greys, blacks and white and have to force myself to try other colours.
- Can you now see colour rather than accepting what you think you see?
Yes I find there is a real noticeable difference between what my mind perceives and what is actually there if I take the time to stop and look. Obviously in normal day to day life my brain just glosses over all the subtle differences, but if you take the time to stop and really look then you can find the most unexpected colours where you would generally assume there to be only one flat colour.
- Did you prefer working with watercolours or gouache paints? What was the difference?
Without a doubt I prefer working with watercolours, they just have so much life and vibrancy in them! I love the freedom of making them run all over the paper and drip into interesting patterns. I know you’re supposed to be able to use gouache in the same way but it just never works as well for me. Gouache seems flatter and more uniform in colour when I use it – more like acrylic paint, except you can’t keep painting over it in layers as it dissolves again when painted over and just leaves a big muddy mess. Gouache was useful for colour mixing and matching because of the flatter more uniform finish, but only if I applied it quite thickly so it didn’t dry patchy, watercolours weren’t so good for colour mixing as they seem to seperate out a bit as they dry or sit in lower areas of the paper giving areas of deeper colour. I did appreciate the opacity of white gouache though, this really helped with mixing colours, with watercolours all you can really do is add more water to make a paler shade which makes it hard to predict the end result.
- How successful were the colour exercises in Stage 5? How did they compare to the painting exercises?
I enjoyed the embroidery in Stage 5, its a big change of pace from painting as its so much slower – although this makes it much harder to try out ideas as it takes hours instead of minutes to experiment. It was easy to build up masses of separate colours to contrast against each other, but very difficult to get them to mix. The different colours all continued to look very separate no matter how they were mixed together, but then maybe that’s because I was working with very saturated primary colours for the most part. I think that if I tried more muted, or pastel colours they may have blended together more smoothly. Also the black background seemed to make the contrasts between the colours more noticeable, a more neutral background like grey or using darker coloured threads may have worked better for blending the colours together. I found I much prefer using paint for the colour exercises as you can mix any colour you want, whereas its very difficult to change the appearance of a piece of thread, it seems to stay the colour I bought it no matter how it is combined with other threads and fabric.
- Is there anything you would like to change or develop?
If I could do all the exercises again I would like to do them with more freedom, the exercises in ‘Colour: A workshop for artists and designers’ by David Hornung are very prescriptive, and I feel I got more caught up in trying to make them perfect than really exploring them so they feel ‘tight’ and restricted to me when I look back at them. I do enjoy experimenting with colours that gradually change in saturation or value though, or a collection of more muted colours used together, so these are areas I feel I’d like to develop more.