Mad In Pursuit Notebook


Textile Design: Look Out For Color (Work In Progress)

4.20.2014. [cont'd from 4.16.2014] This week I pretended to be a fabric designer. Once I got my feverish faces into a repeating pattern in Illustrator, I moved on to the challenge of "mastering" a disciplined color palette. The pros produce their fabric in two or more "colorways" -- same pattern, different palettes or different patterns, same palettes. I know the basics about color wheels, warm vs. cool, vivid vs. muted, primary-secondary, but I'm still at a loss about how to design a palette that rises above the ordinary. Gazing at swatch themes in Illustrator or Kuler will never make me a colorist.

As luck would have it, Craftsy posted the keynote speeches from the 2013 QuiltCon as a free course. Among them were Creating Your Unique Color Story by fabric designer Amy Butler. She makes extensive use of her travel photos to develop palettes. Oh, I have photos! Then I learned that Adobe's Kuler has a feature that generates color themes from photos you import. Aha! (See Lynda's Kuler Essential Training.)

Fast forward.

Color theme #1 (upper left, above) came from a wintry photo taken through my bedroom window -- muted, cool blues -- so I called it "February Snow."

Color theme #2 (lower left) was derived from some of my old index card art, reflecting my favorite marker colors. The warm colors were summery. Maybe I have a seasonal theme going. So, "July Heat."

Color theme #3 (upper right). If I'm onto seasons, I do have a group of photos I took of lilacs in Highland Park. Spring is always depicted in pastels, but nothing pale about Rochester's "May Lilacs."

Color theme #4 (lower right). Something for autumn was now needed but the usual Halloween-Thanksgiving formula was too boring. I wanted something luscious and bountiful. I tried lifting colors from deep red Central Asian carpets, but then had to improvise. I wound up calling it "November Wine."

If I have color theme names, what would I call the fabric itself, with all its faces peering out their little windows? Thinking, thinking, bathroom break, inspiration: LOOKOUT. The faces are lookouts. Lookout for February Snow! Lookout for July Heat! Lookout for May Lilacs! Lookout for November Wine!

Ok, done. I uploaded the patterns to Spoonflower last night and ordered some fat quarters (21" x 18" cuts) on Kona cotton to see how they look. I'm dying of curiosity to see how they print up, but how exciting to think about using my own fabric design in a project...