Dancing with the Rainbow
Dancing with the Rainbow is the title of the Lindly Haunani color workshop I took this past weekend in CT. The title is an apt description for a workshop that immerses you in color from the moment it starts. The workshop was hosted by the Southern Connecticut Polymer Clay Guild.
When I was asked if I wanted to go to the workshop, I immediately said “yes.” And then I had a few moments of hesitation. Could I afford to go? What in the world would I get out of this workshop? I don’t make jewelry or do much canework. Then I remembered a comment Christine Kane once made when you’re in this type of situation: “Can I afford not to go?”
I began to think about my own fear of working with color. How I’ve never been comfortable enough to play and experiment with color. I use polymer clay colors primarily as they come out of the package but I’ve never made my own color palette. That, however, was about to change….
Day One: Color Collages & Heads Explode
After an introduction and a little color history, we started the workshop by sorting through the color magazine clippings we brought. We quickly sorted into two piles; images we liked and images we didn’t. Then we sorted the “like” pile into sub-piles according to color families. Finally, Lindly walked around the room and worked with each of us to choose a color family to create our collage. Most people chose colors that they did not normally work with.
It was really interesting to watch people choose their colors. Sometimes our eyes gravitated to a pile of images, sometimes people took a small step toward the pile of images that attracted them. For some people the tone of their voice changed as they talked about the colors that excited them versus the colors they typically worked with.
After our color family was chosen, we created our collages. And then the real work began.
I typically work in more muted tones or earth tones. I knew I wanted to work in a brighter color family. I initially gravitated toward the red color family but when I stood back and looked at my two choices-the vibrant yellows, oranges and lime greens and the reds, I immediately went for the above color palette.
The collages above are examples of those created by some of the ladies in the workshop.
So what is this about heads exploding?
After we created our collages, Lindly walked us through the process of determining the base primary colors in each collage. Now you have to remember that Lindly has been working with color and honing her expertise in color for 20 years. She can pick out the primary colors in any collage with ease. And for me…not so much. Isn’t blue, is blue, is blue?
The primary colors we worked with were cadmium red, fuchsia, cobalt blue, ultramarine blue, cadmium yellow and zinc yellow in Premo polymer clay. And then there were the secondary colors of orange, violet, and green. And of course there are the in between colors that result from mixing your primaries in various proportions. Oh and there is this “color” called mud which results when you combine equal portions of your primaries and you use it to help you create your custom colors.
Yikes! Let the brain overload and head exploding commence 🙂
I had a pretty hard time wrapping my head around this whole concept with the first few collages we reviewed. I have rarely looked at color from this point of view. Remember, I tend to work work with polymer clay colors directly from the package. I have almost every color available in the Premo color line. Why mix colors when the colors are already prepared for you? Oh silly, silly me.
Lindly placed primary color tiles on the collages and helped us to determine which primary colors made up the collage. If the primary color tiles didn’t click, we worked in reverse and used secondary colors and their variations to help us determine the primary colors. (The primary colors are essentially the DNA for all the color variations.) This approach seemed to work better for me. Surprisingly, after some time, things were starting to click for me.
By George, I think she’s getting it!
Day Two: A Door Opens
On Sunday something magical happened. A door opened as I finally became comfortable with this new experience. I found myself getting excited about making my own colors. I thought about the designs I’ve created in my current pieces. I realized that with this new knowledge, my current work seemed rather boring.
On the second day of the workshop, we finished reviewing the collages, Lindly demonstrated a few techniques for creating designs with Skinner Blends and various texture tools, and then we got to play with our color palettes. Our goal was to cover a wood mirror frame using our color palettes.
Then a bit of hesitation set in for me. What did I just learn? How did we make those colors? What color combination makes green?
Have you ever had that happen where you learn something and then you say “what are we supposed to do?”
So I slowly played with my color palette and started to learn the color formulas. I wasn’t being terribly exact and stopped trying to write out the formula (a little of this color, then a pinch of that color, and a lot of that color.) As I became more comfortable with playing, I found I was able to look at my color collage and determine that I needed more yellow, or white, or mud, to create a better match.
This was fun!
We were having such fun making our colors that most of us didn’t cover our mirror frames. So I’ll post my finished mirror at a later date.
I must thank Lindly for an awesome workshop and for opening a new creative door. I now have a greater appreciation for color and for making custom colors. Thanks too to the SCPCG for being gracious and welcoming hosts.
Note: Lindly Haunani is co-author with Maggie Maggio of Polymer Clay Inspirations: Techniques and Jewelry Projects for Creating Successful Palettes. To learn more about Lindly’s workshops and order her book, visit her website. She also has a blog. For more information on the Southern Connecticut Polymer Clay Guild, visit here.
October 27, 2009 at 5:41 pm
What a great blog job you did! I was there and felt the same way but walked away with a new understanding of color. It was truly amazing that an entire palate of colors can be had with just 5 colors; black, white, red, blue, and yellow. It ended with a real sense of accomplishment.
My thanks to Lindley too!
October 31, 2009 at 6:48 pm
Thanks for your compliments on my summary of Lindly’s workshop. I agree with you on feeling a sense of accomplishment. It made me feel more confident knowing that I could create a custom color that represents me. Hope to see you at a future workshop.
October 27, 2009 at 8:46 pm
Amy, that looks like such a fabulous workshop! I would love to take something like that – though I don’t do polymer clay. But I love color, mix all my own when I work with egg tempera, and often with acrylics – but don’t have a sound background in color theory.
The outcome of the work you guys did is awesome. Hooray for you!
October 31, 2009 at 6:51 pm
Good to hear from you. I’m sure you can do something similar with your acrylics and the egg tempera. My understanding is that the basic theory (determining the base primary colors) can be applied to painting. If you get or borrow a copy of the book, try the color collage exercise and have a set of primary color acrylics handy and start playing!
October 27, 2009 at 11:57 pm
Thanks for posting the pictures and insightful comments about the workshop…I am looking forward to seeing the “colorful” changes in your designs.
Also, Maggie Maggio is posting “Weekend Extras”- questions, variations and tips for following along with the studio tools, projects and exercises in our book on her blog= maggiemaggio.com
October 31, 2009 at 6:52 pm
Thank you again for opening my eyes and confidence to color. I’ll check out Maggie’s blog too.
October 30, 2009 at 4:54 pm
Oh, how I would love to attend a workshop like that! Fascinating! Thanks for sharing.
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November 3, 2009 at 1:55 am
Yes, you said it for me, too. My experiences pretty much follow yours when it comes to color!
I know it’s going to take me some time just fiddling with colors and letting the process sink deeper into my brain, but it was sooo worth it. I got so much from her class, but I’d take it again, it was that good. I can see how this is going to help me in so much more than my polymer clay.
Lindly brought a few books to sell, and they disappeared before I realized. Augh!!! I was the proud owner before I reached home that night, though. *grin*
November 5, 2009 at 10:46 pm
It was nice seeing you again at Lindly’s workshop. I started playing with some colors this week. It was really liberating to know I could mix some colors and a little bit of mud and create a really cool custom color. Such fun!
November 4, 2009 at 5:25 pm
Wonderful report of Lindly’s color workshop and the photos are fantastic. There are few subjects that I find more fascinating than color…that being said, I hope that someday I have the opportunity to take one of Lindly’s workshops !
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