Fun with Colors and Patterns

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Hi Everyone!  I hope you’ve had a great week.  We are definitely beginning to feel a bit of spring fever coming on here at the Swan’s Nest!

I have an AMAZINGLY talented quilter friend at Ivory Spring.  You can visit her blog and see photos of her wonderful quilts here.  I just love her work, and she has been encouraging me to consider some quilt themed art projects of my own.  I hope this fits the bill!  I was inspired by a “paper quilt” my friend made with her daughter in this blog post.

The pattern “worksheet” I’m using here is actually from my COLOR STUDIES FOR KIDS curriculum.  You can view the entire curriculum here.  I’m happy to be able to offer you this particular page for free.  You can download a PDF version to print here: Crazy Pattern resized.

In this post, I’m going to fill my pattern with actual pieces of colored paper; however, if cutting and gluing are not your thing, you can get wonderful effects just by coloring the pattern with markers, crayons, or colored pencils (as you can see from the image above).

First, you need to decide what colors you want to use, so let’s talk a little about the color wheel.  I’m going to show you the painter’s color wheel, because that’s the one we usually use when we work with most artist’s media (like paint, colored pencil, marker, etc.)

Primary Colors Wheel

The painter’s color wheel starts with the three primary colors of Red, Blue, and Yellow.  All of the other colors come from mixing these together in various amounts.

Secondary Colors Wheel

The secondary colors are made by mixing equal amounts of two primary colors.  Red and Yellow make Orange.  Yellow and Blue make Green.  Blue and Red make Purple.

Tertiary Colors Wheel

The tertiary colors are made by mixing equal amounts of a primary and it’s adjacent secondary color.  Red + Orange = Red Orange, Red + Purple = Red Purple, Yellow + Orange = Yellow Orange, Yellow + Green = Yellow Green, Blue + Green = Blue Green, and Blue + Purple = Blue Purple.

Now that we’ve talked about how these colors are made, let’s talk a little about how they interact.  Colors that are next to each other on the color wheel are called analogous colors.  Since they are pretty similar to each other, they usually go well together.  Below is a section of my “crazy quilt” that uses analogous colors.  As you can see, there really isn’t much contrast between the red and orange or the yellow and orange.  They are analogous colors.  The red and yellow are beginning to “pop” a bit more, because they’re farther apart on the color wheel, but they’re still not too far apart.

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Colors that are opposite each other on the color wheel are called complementary colors.  Because these colors are opposites, they really make each other “pop”.  They can even be hard to look at next to each other.  Sometimes when you stare at the edges of complementary colors placed next to each other, they edges seem to vibrate or even light up in places.  This effect is called vibrance.  The cool thing about complementary colors is that, because they really are opposites, you can do cool tricks with them!  Try staring at very center of the image below for 30 seconds or so (you should get to see some vibrance).  When you can’t take it any longer, blink, then stare at the white space next to it.  Hopefully, you’ll see a “magic trick”. ;0)

Complementary Color Trick

Did you see it?  Hopefully, you were able to see an after image with the red and green colors reversed when you looked away to the white space.  This is caused by over stimulating the color receptors in your eyes.  These receptors are called cones.  When you over stimulate them, you temporarily burn them out, so that you see the opposite color for a bit after you look away.  I found a super cool after image trick using the US Flag on this page.

So, if you want your “paper quilt” to really “pop”, choose complementary colors.  If you want it to be more peaceful and soothing, choose analogous colors. 🙂  Below is a neat example of how the same color can look different depending on which other color it is matched with.

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Can you see the difference in the oranges?  The long orange strip is literally one piece though.  It is only the background colors making it look different.

Tertiary Colors WheelOk, one more thing to consider when choosing your colors.  The colors on the left half of the color wheel above (red – yellow) are warm colors.  While the colors on the right half (purple – green) are cool colors.

So, when you pick your colors, think about how much you want them to “pop” and whether you want your pattern to have an overall warm or cool feel to it.

Alright, pick your colors and we’re ready to begin!  I chose red and green for the paper version of my “crazy quilt”, but you can pick as many or as few as you like.

If you’re using paper, you’ll want to start by cutting it into 1 1/2″ strips.

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Next, cut the strips into 1 1/2″ squares.  You’ll need a total of 16 squares.

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If you’re going to make a whole square one color, you don’t necessarily need to cut it into triangles, but if you’re going to mix up the colors in your squares, you’ll want to cut them into triangles like this:

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Once you get all of your squares/triangles cut, you’re ready to make your pattern!  I recommend placing all of your pieces where you want them before you glue any down.  You may decide you want to make changes.  When you’re ready just glue them in place with a glue stick or Elmer’s school glue.

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Et voila!  You have a paper quilt!  Mine is a little hard to look at, since I used complimentary colors, but you can do the fun eye trick with it. ;0)

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Thanks for stopping by.  Have a wonderful weekend!

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