Are your color combinations flat?
Chapter 6 of Polymer Clay Color Inspirations starts with the observation, “All color combinations are not created equal. Some are more successful than others.” I’ll second that. How many canes have I made where I couldn’t see the pattern because the colors did not contrast? On the other hand, I have turned out my share of pieces where the color contrast is so great it diminishes the mood I want the piece to convey. I want to have more control over my work and to develop the ability to compose calmer palettes that are still interesting.
I always thought in terms of hue contrasts, but Lindly and Maggie point out that there are value and saturation contrasts too, and the way one chooses to emphasize them (or not) is key to orchestrating successful color combinations.
The first exercise in this chapter is to mix seven colors from your collage and place them in strips on a sheet of mud to see how they contrast with one another.
Here are the color formulas I came up with using my personal palette. That’s a digital scale I like to use to weigh the clay.
Here are my color recipes:
1.) 5 parts white and one part my magenta
2.) 1/2 my blue and 1/2 my yellow with a bit of white
3.) 3 parts yellow to one part magenta
4.) 4/5 blue and 1/5 magenta
5.) blue and yellow and white
6.) 7 parts yellow and one part blue
7.) 3 parts magenta to one part white
Here are the colors on the collage. I can’t believe how fast I mixed them. Now that color mixing is easier for me and more instinctive, I need to learn how to use those colors to convey the mood I want instead of leaving it to chance.
Here are my colors placed on the mud (5 parts black and one part each of my blue, yellow and magenta.)
Here are the colors baked and unbaked side by side. It’s hard to see, but numbers 3 and 4 darkened in the baking.
On to the next exercise!