by Anke Humpert
“People observe the colors of a day only at its beginnings and its ends, but to me it's quite clear that a day merges through a multitude of shades and intonations, with each passing moment. A single hour can consist of thousands of different colors. Waxy yellows, cloud-spat blues. Murky darknesses. In my line of work, I make it a point to notice them. ”
― Markus Zusak, The Book Thief
“What´s your favourite color” that was the question we always asked the new kid on the block when I was little. We where always exited to hear the answer. Often the answer was “blue”, not quite as often “red” some said “green”. “Yellow” was a rare answer. If you were luck you even got answers like “violet”, “pink” or even “turquoise”. If you ask adults the same question you would either hear “ I don’t know” or an even more sophisticated color choice like “burgundy” or “maroon”. Now I know that these are all typical answers. Blue is the color that most people claim to be their favourite one. “Green” is also a widely spread favourite color and “red” and “yellow” are much more rare.
What do people actually mean when they say one color or another and tell you it´s their favourite one? Can you have only one favourite color or more? The more you think about it the more confusing it gets! Colors and how we react to them is definitely a topic worth exploring!
So even if you do have a favourite color you might still think about other colors as well. Depending on for what it is, but also on when! A dress for the day will have a different color than a dress for the evening, in Spring you might want to have a fresh color, in Summer bold, vibrant colors, in Fall maybe earthy colors and in Winter cool colors, or maybe just the other way around!
When you are working with polymer clay it is easy to always go and pick your favourite color (or what you think it is!) or a color combo you love. I think we all do that at times and there is nothing wrong with it. But sometimes, especially when you want to broaden the way you are working, it is a good exercise to NOT pick those very same colors again. Challenge yourself to use something different, or even something that you would not consider at all. Sometimes a color needs a partner to make it more interesting or mute it down a notch, or make it pop.
How to Emphasize Colors With Polymer Clay
Polymer clay is such a wonderful medium where we can get all the colors we want and so we can either bring our favourite color to the stage and it will be the star in our work or we can compliment it, add a sense of drama or fun to it.
Next time you are looking for a color you work with, why don´t you challenge yourself and NOT pick your favourite color. You might be surprised by what you create and even find another new favourite color. I find the more I work with color the more I can make an educated decision and find what I really want. There are a lot of ideas of what you can do to help you if you find selecting colors challenging.
For the pictures of this blog I went through my house and collected all kinds of random things in blue, green, yellow and red. It was a really fun exercise to do! First of all I was surprised by which color was easy to find (blue and green) and which ones where much harder (red and yellow). But knowing about most peoples favourite colors it does make sense. Then I noticed all the different shapes of each color, where the colors come from ( the kitchen, my studio, my kids rooms …) and what the things in each color are used for. For example: a lot of my yellow things are either books or office supply! I think this is a very fun and easy exercise everyone can do, and your kids will love to help you with it!
There are two other color exercises I suggest:
The first one is to collect colors in a note book. If you find a picture with a color you like, cut it out or copy it and paste it in your note book. You can write a sentence or two about what it is that attracted you to this color, if you can point that out. And if you want to go even further you can recreate this color with polymer clay and write the recipe next to your color sample. This note book can be a valuable reference for your future clay projects.
The second exercise I find helpful is to go on a color hunt with your camera. The camera on your phone is great for that, because you probably have it with you most of the times anyway. For your color hunt you can either dedicate days or weeks to hunting for a certain color. It´s really remarkable how we suddenly see that color everywhere because we have put our focus on it. And when you find that color somewhere snap a picture of it. You can of course collect all your colorful pictures in a file, or when you have a good collection, you could also have your own color book printed. Those picture can also be used for future reference when you are selecting a color.
I think being aware of colors around us and their different nuances and shades will help us with our polymer clay work, make us more secure to pick exactly the color we want and can add a lot of fun to our every day.