Colour combination experiments

I have become a bit fixated recently with colour combinations, in particular complementary or opposite colours. The traditional opposites are red and green, blue and orange and yellow and violet. These come from the well know colour wheel, which dates back to Isaac Newton. A good intro can be found here. This is the colour chart usually used by artists in paintings. A more scientific approach to colour is the basis for the colour combinations used in printing and computer screens. Here is a very brief outline of this, often known as CMYK. This theory produces the following opposites, blue and yellow, red and cyan and green and magenta. Cyan it seems is a turquoise or aquamarine blue, while magenta is a bit of a mystery.

Anyway I decided to try out these opposites using a simple two colour design from the book, Four Way Bargello by Dorothy Kaestner. I have just finished the set, which you can see below.IMG_1241



The fabric is an 18ct Aida and the threads are from the Anchor range of Pearl cotton, No5. I found the pearl cotton easy to work with on the 18ct fabric. There is though a more limited range of colours than for stranded cotton threads. So I am not sure just how accurate my choice of colours are in relation to the opposites. For what it is worth, the blue is No. 410 and the yellow is No. 306. This is more a golden yellow. For the cyan I used No. 168 and the red is No. 235. The final pair consists of No. 230 for the green and No. 77 as the closest approximation to magenta I could find in our local store.

I did enjoy this little experiment and will continue now and again to experiment a bit more. As a first step I would like to try the same combinations, but in reverse, just to see if it makes any difference in feel.

I should now be able to get back to finishing the blackwork piece I started months ago. I ran out of the superfine silk thread and could not find a shop anywhere nearby which sold this particular thread. So I had to resort to ordering the thing online. It should arrive within the next day or two and I can finish off another project.


2 thoughts on “Colour combination experiments

  1. I love the way you approach these projects Alister – and the results are superb! Although I wouldn’t be able to work them on a migraine-day! Look forward to seeing the blackwork when you’ve picked it up again x

  2. I think you are right about these intense colours – you can only do a few at a time. I have now finished the blackwork piece but forgot to take a photo of it before sending it to the framer. Too much colour work!

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