Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Randall Darwall Workshop Part 2 - Values

Most people know the language of colors, understand it, or can explain it better than I can, so I'll be brief.

What we normally call 'color' refers to the hue, (red, yellow, green, etc., found on the color wheel), but there are two other parts, value (light/dark) and intensity (brightness) which also come into play; we didn't get to intensity, so we'll ignore it.

I love to weave what I call, "roughly monotone" textiles, mixing almost identical hues but with slightly different values, or textures. (Not sure if values relate to textures, so any help is appreciated.) I believe the weave visually comes to the fore this way.

What I find most attractive about Randy's textiles is when he mixes many hues, but within a relatively narrow range of values; so, many colors, but about the same lightness/darkness. This creates a shimmering, elegant effect that gives the textile a different kind of interest than my usual textile. Take a look.

The problem I've always had is I don't see values. I can distinguish black and white, but not the subtle differences of the shades of gray. I have 6-, 10- and 12-block gray scale things with little holes; I have the quilters' red and green plastic sheets; I have squinted and looked under the moonlight, but I just don't see it, and I'm happy when someone tells me A is darker than B. I'm value-blind rather than color-blind. So one of the goals Randy thought I should aim for is to experiment more with colors and develop alternative ways to understand value relationships, so I can weave cloth that shimmer.


  1. Meg,
    To see the value of colours, how about…
    1 Line up your yarns on the paper to simulate your project (warp)
    2 Set your camera to B&W
    3 Look through camera to see how it looks like (Do not have to take a pic though)

    It may not exactly what you want to archive but just an idea,

  2. Another way that's recommended is to paste a bunch of yarns on a sheet of paper and having it photocopied black and white; more or less the same as you suggested, Ben. I guess it was reaassuring to know that someone like Randy understood that there are some of us who don't see values, and to suggest to work around it. Over time it's supposed to come semi-instinctively. When I'm old and gray, dear.

  3. Meg,
    Thank you for keeping the buzz of the workshop alive (although it might be just a humm for those who came down with colds).
    I keep coming across notes like "add ins untidy and delicious" and "screamingly gorgeous". What great cloth we are all going to create.

  4. Gee, Dianne, I don't have such nice sayings ANYWHERE in my notes. I have "painterly", "Surprise me", and a bit of "music yadah yadah" (which were when I didn't pay much attention to his musical metaphores, which in retrospect were quite good). My head is still buzzing for sure, but it's been sedated by the day-time-night-time medicine unfortunately. Do share if you have more good stuff!

  5. wow - these are interesting concepts in color - I think I need to learn a lot more. It's so amazing that we all can have our own gradations of perception of color, isn't it? Wild.

  6. One of the interesting thing that came up in the workshop was Randy called orange a neutral color, and because he was just in Australia the previous week, we thought it was an Australian influence, where the soil and the rocks can be very orange-red. Some of my classmates insisted orange was not neutural, at least not in New Zealand, but I think Randy said something about New England colors; he's from Cape Cod.

    This in turn reminded me of two things: when I was in Beijing '86, it was early summer, and the desert wind was blowing from the west, (or so I thought) so everthing was enveloped in a yellow haze. I could see you really wanted strong contrasts in hues if you want to see a design, and I understood the traditional Chinese red and gold combination for the first time. And more metaphysically, who is to say what I call orange is the same as what you call orange, eh?


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