Last time I talked about how colors interact with each other and how that presents challenges (and opportunities) for us when selecting fabrics for our quilts. Well, along that same vein, is gray. Gray is magical as any of the modern quilters will tell you. I think they all buy Kona gray by the bolt and use it in half the quilts that they make.
So today we are going to talk about gray....with a brief intro by black and white. Let's look at how colors interact with these 3 special color.
While it's nice to think about one color apart from all other colors, in our world we can't do that. Every color is perceived in relation to the colors around it. In fact, just this week my husband painted a room white for a customer because she was having too much trouble selecting new fabrics with the room in it's original color. She needed the white to be able to see the colors in the fabrics more clearly.
But even white and black will affect color. Look at these 2 examples. On the white background. Specifically look at the yellow and violet. On the white background the violet advances while the yellow becomes almost a background color. On the black background the reverse is true. They function the same in our quilts. That bright acid green that you like is really going to pop on your dark quilt but you might as well save it from your light quilt because it's going to just blend into the background.
This is a good time to talk about afterimage. We will get into this more when we start talking about color wheels and complementary colors. But, in a nutshell, an afterimage is what you see when you stare at an object for several seconds and them look away. You see a glowing "negative" of the image. The color you see is the opposite of the color of the object and is the complementary, or opposite, color. Try it with the quilt image with the white background. Stare at it for several seconds and then look away at a white surface. The green square turns reddish, the violet turns yellowish and so on. After images work only on these type of pure hues.
The point of bringing this up is that no matter what you are looking at, your eye needs that complement and if it's not in the image you eye will impose it on the image.
Each of these blocks has the same gray as the center. But the colors are affecting the gray that we perceive. Why is this important to us? Because there are lots of grays and if the one we are trying to use isn't working, you might need another one.
Here are yellow and blue with 3 different grays. The one at the top looks greenish on the blue and almost brown on the yellow while the one on the bottom looks almost pale blue on the blue and very blue on the yellow.
Here are the 3 grays that I used. The one on the left is the bottom gray and the one on the right is the top gray. Interesting, huh?
Before we leave this topic, we have to be reminded of proportion. In the previous example we were looking at how color affects gray. But when the proportion is reversed, gray can affect color. Unlike white or black, gray makes all the colors more vibrant and that's why we love the modern quilts with their light gray backgrounds. If' you've never considered using gray in a quilt, maybe it's time.
Next we will start talking about different color systems and color wheels.