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Finding Composition and Design in the Tropics

Finding Composition and Design in the Tropics

I have been in Florida visiting my mom for the last week. I didn’t have time to do any fiber art but I certainly found a lot of inspiration everywhere I looked. I also found lots of elements of composition and design. I like to take photos of different color schemes, different shapes, line, texture as well as other elements of design. So I thought I would show you some of what I saw in Florida. I always think it is good to occasionally give creating a rest or a vacation so that when you come back to it, you will be relaxed and have gained new insight from your travels.

Tropical plants have lots of color. I found many green and red complimentary color schemes.

And a variety of lines.

Textures were everywhere.

And then I was inspired by different shapes (and more color).

What elements of design do you see in these photos? What photos do you take when you’re on vacation? How would you use these photos to inspire your work?

Don’t forget to sign up for Teri Berry’s Concertina Felt Hat Class. Registration closes on October 31st!. Sign up here. 


Composition and Design – Color

Composition and Design – Color

I seemed to have missed the Composition and Design post for September but I will just move on to the next element of design, color. I have discussed color many times here especially the year that we had color as the focus of our quarterly challenges. But it’s always good for a review and to think about how you use color in your compositions.

Mixing Color - Color Wheel

Color occurs when light in different wavelengths strikes our eyes. Objects have no color of their own, only the ability to reflect a certain wavelength of light back to our eyes. As you know, color can vary in differing circumstances. For example, grass can appear gray in the morning or evening or bright green at noon. Colors appear different depending on whether you view them under incandescent, fluorescent or natural sunlight. Colors also change according to their surroundings.

There are three properties of color which are hue, value and intensity. Hue refers to the color itself. Each different hue is a different reflected wavelength of light. White light broken in a prism has seven hues: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet. Remember Roy G. Biv? White light occurs when all the wavelengths are reflected back to your eye, and black light occurs when no light is reflected to your eye. This is the physics of light.

Contemporary Designs by Deb Stika

Color value refers to the lightness or darkness of the hue. Adding white to a hue produces a high-value color, often called a tint. Adding black to a hue produces a low-value color, often called a shade. Value can be used for emphasis. Variations in value are used to create a focal point for the design of a piece.

Intensity, also called chroma or saturation, refers to the brightness of a color. A color is at full intensity when not mixed with black or white – a pure hue. You can change the intensity of a color, making it duller or more neutral by adding gray to the color. You can also change the intensity of a color by adding its complement (this is the color found directly opposite on the traditional color wheel). When changing colors this way, the color produced is called a tone.

Certain colors have an advancing or receding quality, based on how our eye has to adjust to see them. Warm colors such as red, orange or yellow seem to come forward while cool colors such as blue and green seem to recede slightly. In the atmosphere, distant objects appear bluish and the further away an object appears, the less colorful and distinct it becomes. You can use this tendency to give an illusion of depth, by using more neutral and grayish colors in the background.

Various color schemes can be used in your work. A monochromatic color scheme involves the use of only one hue. The hue can vary in value, and black or white may be added to create various shades or tints.

Leaves Printed in Multi Colors

An analogous color scheme involves the use of colors that are located adjacent on the color wheel. The hues may vary in value.

Hand Stitch Sample Book

A complementary color scheme involves the use of colors that are located opposite on the color wheel such as red and green, yellow and purple, or orange and blue. Complementary colors produce a very exciting, dynamic pattern.

textured felt for cutting close.

Or how about triadic? (Thanks to Ann for the photo above.) This color scheme involves the use of colors that are equally spaced on the color wheel. The primary colors of yellow, red and blue could be used together in a color scheme to produce a lively result.


What’s your favorite color scheme? Do you push outside of your comfort zone occasionally and try colors you normally wouldn’t use?

Water Lily

How can you use color to evoke different emotions? Do you connect certain emotions to certain colors?

form barette

What does using a monochromatic color scheme do to your composition? Complementary? Analogous? Or Triadic?

Online Course Embellishing Felt with Surface Design Techniques - A Mixed Media Approach by Ruth Lane

How do you choose your color scheme? Is it affected by the subject of your composition? The mood you want to achieve? What is the impact of choosing a color scheme that is the opposite of your normal choice?

Chemo Curtains

What would your composition look like with all the same values? How can you use value changes to improve your focal point?

I’d love to hear about how you use color and whether you think about it in advance or just jump in with your favorite colors.


In Between Yurting

In Between Yurting

This has been a really busy summer for me. The yurt has taken up a large amount of time, the store has been busy and I had color class homework to complete. So in between the yurt efforts, I have been slowly completing the tasks on my list.


I was running quite low on cat toys at the store. So I made several batches. I put them all into the panty hose and then throw them into the washing machine. The other batches were different colors so now I have enough to last the next couple of months.

MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAThe rest of my spare time has been spent completing my color studies homework. So I have painted lots of color scales, color wheels, color schemes etc.

MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAThis little book (6″ x 6″) is filled with different color schemes.

MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAI haven’t finished the bigger book yet. It has all the scales and color wheels plus colored pencil studies, magazine color studies and other fun stuff.

MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAHere are my blue pages.

MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAAnd this is what I’m working on now. I am making a color study from the photograph with various pieces of painted paper. The colors are pulled from the photo and then different amounts of each color are used in the layers of color. I got in a hurry and spilled water all over the photo. I’ll have to print another one.

MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAIt seems like I spent a vast amount of time deciding how much of each color to show. Now I have to cut the pieces and tape them down to a background page. I’ll probably change my mind again as I’m taping them down.

I have also been preparing for my stitch class’s exhibit which will be in September. I had to get a few more pieces ready for hanging. I don’t have any photos but generally it was matting pieces and lacing pieces in preparation for framing. Have you been busy this summer? Do let us know what you’ve been up to. We’d love to see photos and hear all about it on the forum.

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