Working In a Series: Outside Your Color Comfort Zone

I’m a color snob. I admit it: there are colors that are, to me, so boring, so bland, so washed out and wimpy and just generally pathetic that I don’t even consider them Real Colors. I like bright. I like tertiaries–acid green, brilliant golden yellow, luscious reddish purple. My husband and I have our set of personal favorites–purple, orange, acid green, fuchsia, hot pink. Our house is full of these colors, and–once he retired from coaching football and basketball and no longer wears the same-old, same-old uniform of khaki pants and purple-and/or-gold-and/or-white knit shirts–well: I dyed everything in all our closets these same colors. I rarely stray–these are the colors I love, and why would I want to wear brown when it doesn’t make me smile?

Beige. Eggshell. Ecru. Taupe. Nice words; boring colors.

But since I’m making a bunch of these cropped over-tops, and since I’m making them from shirts and sweaters I can get for cheap at the thrift store, I have a limited choice of colors. If it’s white, I can dye it, sure–but what about black? Brown? Olive? Some of those are really nice and soft from lots of wear and laundering, and I love that.

So I bought an olive henley. Growing up, “my colors,” the ones in which I was supposed to look good, were burnt orange, gold, olive, russet. I wore and liked those colors, usually in autumnal dresses my mother made for Back To School. While I don’t wear them much now, I still have a fondness for them, especially in the fall. So even though olive and gold don’t make my heart sing, they don’t irritate me, either. And I decided to take this fabulously soft henley and alter it. I’m really glad I did–what could feel more like autumn?

That’s where working in a series can take you: to a palette you wouldn’t normally use. Maybe you’re not comfortable with it–there’s something about mixing and layering colors you’ve worked with for years that’s completely different from working with colors you’re not quite sure about. Maybe you think some of the individual colors are, frankly, kind of ugly. For whatever reason, you just haven’t gone there. Maybe you think pink is only for girls under the age of 12. Maybe you think mustard is only for hotdogs. Maybe you feel sky blue is overused. Whatever it is, if it’s a color that’s crossed your mind, maybe there’s a reason for that. Maybe it’s calling you. And if you’re working in a series, just experimenting or amassing a body of work–well, why *not* go there? Go to gray, or periwinkle, or charcoal. Try fuchsia–it’s easier to love than it is to spell.


Ricë also blogs at The Voodoo Cafe.


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