I finally had a little time to play with color mixing wool. I don’t usually buy commercially dyed wool but I had some on hand that Patti from Dream Felt had given me when I was writing The Complete Photo Guide to Felting. The wool is Norwegian C1 batts and I had a variety of colors. One of the reasons that I like to dye my own wool is that much of the commercial wool is very saturated in color and therefore really bright. Most of my inspiration is from nature, I don’t see those saturated colors in my landscapes, trees, rocks, lichen etc. A lot of my inspiration is in colors that aren’t as bright and many varieties of one color such as a multitude of greens.
So these are the three “primary” colors I started with. I didn’t have a really true red, more of a magenta leaning towards red violet. The blue choices were either this slightly grayed blue or a blue leaning very much to the green side. So these are the colors I chose to mix a color wheel. I used an equal amount of each color and mixed them by hand and carding with hand carders.
Here is the resultant color wheel. Up close, you can still see the individual fiber colors but because your eyes tend to mix the colors, from a distance it looks more like a solid color.
If you look at the yellow-green, you can still see some blue bits in it. Norwegian C1 is a fairly short fiber with what seemed like little neps mixed in. So the colors didn’t blend together all that easily.
I wasn’t all that happy with the greens in my color wheel. So I thought I would try the blue that was almost blue-green and mix that with the yellow. You can see the two different blues on the top row. The two greens that resulted are below the blues.
Compared together, the green on the right looks more of a true middle range green to me. What about you?
I didn’t have any black or white to make tints and shades, so I thought I would try to “neutralize” some colors using their complement (the color on the opposite side of the color wheel). Here I started with light green and a bit of magenta. I used much less magenta than green.
And here is the result on the left compared to the original green on the right. Do you think this would work in a landscape for spring trees? Would it look more natural than the solid light green on the right?
Then I thought I would try mixing the pink with a little dark olive-green. You can see I didn’t use very much.
And here is the new pink on the right compared to the original pink on the left. Which pink do you think would make a more natural skin tone?
Next was orange and blue. I used a small amount of blue to mix into the orange.
And here are the results with the mixed on the left and the original orange on the right. One of the things I have learned from reading books about painting is that if you want to paint a shadow, you should mix some of the original color of what is making the shadow with its complement. That gives you a darker, more neutral color of the original color for the shadow instead of using grey or black to make a shadow. So for example if you were making a wool painting with pumpkins and had used the orange on the right for the pumpkin, do you think the color on the left would make a nice shadow on the side of the pumpkin that was away from the light?
Here I mixed yellow with a light purple. Just a little purple into the yellow to get the color on the top left. Many times when you look at something, say a banana, your mind tells you that it’s yellow. Is a banana truly the color on the top right? Or perhaps it is a more neutral color like the one on the left. If you take a piece of paper and cut a square hole out of the middle, put the paper over the banana to isolate the color, then place your wool next to the open hole in the paper to compare colors, you will probably find that the banana is not as yellow as you think it might be. Different parts of the banana when isolated will be different yellows.
Next I wanted to see if I could make a brown or grey by mixing two complements in equal amounts. So I tried the magenta and dark olive-green.
Here’s the result. What color do you see in the middle? Brown?
I had fun mixing colors and hope you can see why it might be useful to know what wool colors look like when mixed together. I’m sure I must not be the only one that didn’t have the exact color that I needed when making a project. But if you know how to mix color, you can create the color you need by mixing the colors you do have to make an entirely new color.