Thursday, April 25, 2013

Exploring Color Palettes

Mixing colors doesn't come all that easily to me as a jewelry designer and it's something that I want to learn more about this year.  I don't come from a fine arts background, so my understanding of color theory is at a pretty basic level.  When I start looking at colors, I have a strong tendency to want to keep to shades of one hue instead of branching out with pops of contrasting color.  I think playing with diverse colors must be controlled by the same part of the brain that deals with asymmetry... and for me, that area of my brain just needs an extra work out!

The Spring 2013 issue of Jewelry Stringing magazine had a great article called "Colorize Your Jewelry: Top Spots for Color Inspiration."  I skimmed the article when the issue first arrived, but it took me a little while to get around to checking out the websites and blogs that were highlighted by the author.  The other day I finally circled back to the article and then spent the better part of the afternoon in pursuit of amazing color combinations.  The article was a great jumping off point, but I found some great sites and palettes by looking around on Pinterest and other places too!

Color Palette from the Oh the Color website
Perhaps I am just craving some color after what feels like an endless, grey Minnesotan winter, but I'm ready to celebrate COLOR!  Maybe some of you are feeling the same way, so I thought I'd share some of my favorites that I discovered in my color explorations with my readers.

Design Seeds
This website is pretty much all about showing people gorgeous color palettes.  Each day, Jessica Colaluca posts one or two photos along with a color palette that she pulled from it.  I love how you can click on a color in a given palette and it will take you to other photos/palettes that include that color.  There are some more advanced search functions as well.  Since she's been at this since 2009, it's nice to be able to search through the wealth of rich color on her site!

Tulip Color from Design Seeds blog

Brandi Girl Blog
Each month as part of the monthly art challenge, the Art Bead Scene blog shares a color palette for the artwork that is created by Brandi Hussey.  I have long been impressed by the beauty of these palettes but hadn't looked any further until now.  I finally made the leap to look at Brandi's blog, and, WOW, what a wealth of information she shares there!  Brandi is an artist who was formerly a jewelry designer so, in addition to sharing her gorgeous photography and color palettes, she also talks a lot about color theory and design and shares a ton of tips for working with color and beyond.  I want (and need) to go back and explore her blog further... I can tell that I will learn a great deal from this talented lady!

Spring Trees color Palette from Brandi Girl Blog

Here are links to a few more spots on the interwebs that had some serious color inspiration:

  • Photo Card Boutique has a section for what they call Color Crush Palettes.
  • Decor Hacks is a DIY home and craft projects site that has a great section of palettes as well as design ideas. 
  • Oh the Color strives to be a digital sketchbook for color inspiration and to highlight artwork.  They have been posting a palette each Saturday (by Brandi Hussey) that pulls from the previous week's colors. 
  • Color Collective creator Lauren Willhite showcases color palettes "pulled from the work of various designers, artists, and photographers that I am inspired by."  Many are drawn from fashion photography.

All this online exploring inspired me to start a new Pinterest board, Pretty Palettes!, to save some of my favorite color combinations.  My hope is that I can use this as a place to go for color inspiration if I ever get stuck on color.

Overall, my favorite sites were those where they show a color palette along side a photo (or photos) that the colors were drawn from.  I like seeing an image where the colors are mixed together a bit more than just chunks of color side by side.  I think seeing a picture also helps me in thinking about how to best balance the mix of colors in a design too.  As I said, I'm color-challenged so I need all the help I can get!

All that being said, there are plenty of interesting web sites out there that are mostly just groupings of color.  My favorite of these was Adobe's Kuler website that allows you search, create, and share color palettes (they call them themes).  My favorite feature is the ability to create a palette from an uploaded a photo (or one from flickr) and then save it if you have registered with them (it's free!).  Of course, you can just browse the thousands of themes that other people have created and shared.

A color theme I created with one of my jewelry photos.  Pretty cool!

What puzzles me the most about my inability to effortlessly mix colors in my designs is the fact that I'm so drawn to things that have a variety of colors in them.  I'm drawn like a moth to flame by pre-made seed bead mixes, colorful scrap-booking paper, and fun fabric prints so why doesn't my mind naturally turn to those types of color combos?  Looking at all of these great resources has really re-energized me when it comes to adding color to my designs in interesting ways.  I'm smitten with color and I hope my designs will show it!

Some of my favorite seed bead mixes from Glass Garden Beads.
Is anyone else fascinated by color palettes?  or just color in general?  What are your favorite web sites or other sources of inspiring colors?  Let me know in the comments of this blog post... I'm always looking for new ideas and sources of inspiration!

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