Thursday, March 25, 2010

Display Thoughts - Creating a Scheme

Ha!  Couldn't wait until tomorrow!  I started
writing about color in this morning's post
but as I wrote, I decided it merited it's own

One consideration when choosing your color
scheme comes from the  color wheel. You may
be familiar with this, but if you’re not,
or you haven’t thought about it lately, 
we’ll  do a quick primer.  
There are 3 primary colors: blue, red and yellow.
All colors, with the exception of white,
which is all colors and black which is the
absence of color, come from the 
use and mixing of these 3 colors.
Mixing blue and yellow 
produces green, blue and red make purple
and red and yellow make orange.
Those mixed colors are
secondary colors.  
Mix those 6 colors with their
next door neighbors and you end up with
the 6 tertiary colors – blue and green equal
blue green.

Now that we have our 12 basic colors, we can play!
By mixing any of these colors with a primary color, white or black, thousands of colors are created depending on the proportions of the mix.  From those mixtures, we’ll put together a combination of colors to use in our booth displays.   Certain combinations of colors are more comfortable than others while some combinations create drama or intensity.   This is a list of the most common color "harmonies":

Mono-chromatic colors 
   - using 1 color in multiple shades of light and darkness
Complimentary colors
     - using 2 colors that fall opposite each other on the 12-color wheel
Analogous colors 
     - are any 3 colors that fall beside each other on the 12-color wheel
Triadic colors
     - 3 colors that are equal distance on the wheel

As artists, most of us probably have a better “inner sense” about color than others.  When we see a striking floral arrangement or a stunning quilt, much of what makes it beautiful to us is the combination of colors.  As you think about the different color harmonies, what thoughts pop out about each type?  Mono-chromatic done poorly is boring ... mono-chromatic done well is striking and elegant.  Complimentary colors can be bold .. and you can get away with it!  Think of a purple pansy with a yellow eye or a bowl of ripe strawberries, rich and red with their green stems still intact.  Such colors need to be used with care however – if the quantities of the colors are off, it can also create tension.  Analagous colors often exude a certain softness, even if the colors are bold.  Red on it’s own is pretty intense, but a mix with a bit of it’s analogous neighbors can subdue it.  I find triad combinations pretty harsh on their own, but when using the mixed versions, they can be very comfortable.  Take purple, orange and green – a perfect triad, but a little too much color!  Add white – now you have lavender, peach and minty green – a lovely spring combination.  Or go dark and gray them down – you have plum, persimmon and forest green – very rich!    

Colors have their own language and different colors evoke different emotions -- there is a "psychology" of colors.  Think of reds, oranges and yellows as "hot", sunshine colors.  They tend to bring out more intense feelings -- they may make people feel warm and friendly but can also stir up feelings of anger.  They are also active colors -- they can attract a lot of attention but also make people want to move.  A few years back, as more color was introduced into the wardrobes of the business world, red was a well known "power color".  Think of blues and greens as "cool" colors -- they are passive colors -- they make people relax or feel calm, although they make some people feel sad.  Blue is a very popular color -- very often given as a favorite, and it's associated with peacefulness and calm -- but it's also the color we use to express depression ..."I've got the blues today".   Colors have strong personal associations for people as well -- of you were in a terrible accident with a green truck, you may dislike green because you associate it with that painful memory.  When choosing a color scheme for your booth, consider how certain colors make you feel -- you'll be spending a lot of hours in your booth during a show so it needs to be a pleasant experience for you.  If a color makes you feel depressed, you're not going to want to spend 6 or 8 hours with it -- by the end of the day, you'll be emotionally exhausted.   This list gives the common and typical associations for colors:
Red       love, strength, danger, anger
Orange  warmth, enthusiasm, liveliness, demands attention
Yellow  joy, happiness, sunshine, cowardice
Green   nature, health, spring, fertility, generosity, envy
Blue      tranquility, calm, harmony, integrity, trust, sadness
Purple   royal, spiritual, wise, mysterious, exotic, mourning
Black     power, sensuality, elegance, formality, wealth, mystery, fear, mourning
White    purity, cleanliness, simplicity, coolness, sterility

Pastels (color mixed with white) tend to soften the impact.  We associate them with new life -- spring and babies.  Most are considered pleasant.  Colors mixed with gray, such as burgundy (red + gray), denim (navy + gray), seafoam green (green + gray) also tend to soften the effect and are often a bit more calming.  Colors mixed with cream, like rose or herbal greens, are warmed and softened.   Certain colors are characterized as "traditional" -- colors like navy, hunter green and burgundy.  They may rise or fall in popularity but they are timeless and always in good taste.  Trendy colors would follow current fashion or decorating trends and can be used quite effectively for your color scheme, but plan to change your booth every couple years or you'll look outdated.

Years ago, it was all the rage to have your “colors done” – based on your skin tone and the colors of your features (like eyes and hair), you were characterized as being a certain “season”.  Each season had a particular palette of colors that looked best on them.  Winters and Summers were “cool” seasons and look best in cool colors.. Springs and Autumns were “warm” seasons and look best in warm colors.  One the odd things they found though, is that we tend to gravitate toward the colors in our own season.  If you think about the clothes in your closet that make you feel your best, your most confidant or bring you the most compliments, chances are, they are colors in your season.  My mom and I got our colors done together – she has always loved peach, I’ve always disliked it.  Turned out she was a spring (think peach, yellow, green) and I was a winter (think blue, red, black) – she looks sick in black but great in peach, I look fabulous in black and horrible in peach.  So our feelings about colors are different based on our own natural inclinations.  It doesn’t make a huge difference in selecting your color scheme, but if you pay attention to your own preferences, you may notice a trend – and it’s a good idea to understand it.  For what it’s worth, more people are “cool” than “warm”.

TIP: when considering your combinations, whatever you do to one color, you should do to all.  If you add white to one color to make it more pastel, try adding white to your other two colors.  It’s not a rule, but you may find the combination to be more pleasant.
TIP: 1 color should be dominant, the other colors should be in smaller doses
TIP: our brains like to process information in odd numbers .. which is why 3 is very common grouping.
TIP: we may like odd numbers but we also dislike too many colors; if using a lot of colors, such as an African print, be sure 1 color is very dominant

And here’s a link to the colors that people like the most and least:

SO ... now that I’ve totally confused you with way more information than you ever wanted to know about colors, it’s time to consider your options.  It might help to answer some of these questions: (make a list of the colors for each answer) 
Is your craft associated with a particular color or theme? (Like pastels for baby items?)
Would your craft be considered a certain style (Victorian, retro, cottage, modern)?
What colors are associated with that style?
What kind of message do you want your colors to convey?
   Bold = daring
   Traditional = comfortable, safe
   Pastels = sweet, innocent
What colors would draw attention without overpowering your product?
What colors do you like?

Now that you have your list, is there a particular color that pops out at you?  Picking a scheme is as easy as choosing 1 main color, then applying one of the harmonies to come up with a combination for your display.

Play around with different ideas.  Ask your friends what colors appeal to them.  See what stores do in their windows (if you can find a store with a window).  Then put together a stunning craft show display!


Graceful Moments said...

Great refresher course in color!

Art and Sew Forth said...

Wow..that was quite the dissertation! Very interesting and inspiring as I am about to go upstairs and create something new! Thank you!!

Catcalls-Patty :-)

Anonymous said...

Wow, very insightful! I think that some people need help in this great post!

pfd said...

All encompassing and I enjoyed the review of all the colors! Will use some of this in my next paintings!