In all my years working in a bead store environment and working one-on-one with customers to help them pick out their beads there is one thing that stressed them out over all the rest – COLOR. “Does this look ok??” or “Does this color match with this one??” or “I just don’t know. What should I mix with these beads?!” were just some of the many phrases I heard on a daily basis as I saw our fabulous beaders become more and more concerned with color. I would literally see the beads (pun intended?) of sweat glisten on their brows as they simply lacked some Color-Confidence. It’s impossible to blame them, however. These ladies (and some gentlemen) were selecting beads for projects on which they were possibly going to be spending hours and hours – various intricate pieces sewing beads together one – at – a – time. Wouldn’t you want to make sure you color choice would be outstanding from the get-go, too?
Do YOU suffer from… COLOR FEAR? Read on, because the Color Doctor is IN!
First, let’s talk a little basic COLOR THEORY. To start, we’re going to delve into 3 classifications of colors: PRIMARY colors, SECONDARY colors, and TERTIARY colors.
To the left is a Color Wheel. Highlighted are the 3 Primary Colors: Yellow, Red, and Blue. ALL colors are derived from some sort of combination of these 3 colors.
Here we see the same Color Wheel only the 3 colors highlighted are the Secondary Colors: Orange, Violet, and Green. These colors are created by mixing 2 Primary colors.
Red + Yellow = Orange
Red + Blue = Violet
Blue + Yellow = Green
Lastly, this final Color Wheel shows us our Tertiary Colors. These colors are created by mixing a Primary color with a Secondary color. Example: Red + Orange = Red-Orange, which is showing in the 3 o’clock position on the right side of the wheel.
So here’s the thing with color: If you imagine color to be PAINT, some colors you can mix together to create wonderful new colors, hues, and tones, and other colors, when mixed, will become muddy and grey/brown (which is fine if that’s what you’re going for!). But it’s a matter of knowing what to mix to get which result. Colors OPPOSITE each other on the color wheel (pictured to the left, called COMPLEMENTARY Colors) will become muddy if mixed, BUT side-by-side they will ENHANCE each other, almost vibrate with intensity!! Thankfully, beads aren’t paint. BUT, if you’re using lots and lots of teeny tiny beads (like weaving Delicas with Peyote Stitch) they might as well be as they will tend to blend in together visually so utilizing them takes a little more care. One of the most popular examples of Complementary Colors is RED & GREEN, which may make you think of Christmas! Complementary colors like Yellow & Violet or Blue & Orange may remind you of certain sports teams.
As you pick your beads for a project, think about what sort of feel you want the final piece to have. Do you want it to look a little funky? With some fun pop(s) of color? (e.g. Reds, purples, with hints of Green-yellows!) Or are you looking for something more subtle and demure that remains within a similar color family? (e.g. Blues mixed with Blue-Greens) For many people, the former is the more difficult one. They want to add a little “pop” but it – can – be – scary! Keep a color wheel handy and you simply have to look to the opposite side of the color wheel to determine which color(s) will add the most bang for your buck – the most POP!
“The Milkmaid” by Vermeer is a great example of complementary colors in use! Can you see how the golden yellow of the top of her dress pops nicely next to the deep violet indigo of her skirt?
Here we see a great example of colors in this photograph of an ocean wave that stays within the same color family. Varying tones of blues, aquas, teals, mixed with whites all look amazing together – even without a pop of the Red-Orange that would be it’s complementary color scheme!
Now, let’s take a look at what happens when we add some of that Red-Orange! WOW – it really pops out brilliantly against all of those waves!! While this may not be a specific color scheme you want in your next bracelet, the intensity factor here cannot be argued.
Next time you’re having a stressful time picking out colors for your next project, consider looking to some of the great artworks created by the masters! (They are famous for a reason!) You’ll be sure to get some amazing inspiration! CLICK HERE to see some amazing Google search results I came up with!
Or, CLICK HERE to see some beautiful examples of colors schemes in nature – surely you’ll find lots of inspiration here, and then simply match up beads to the colors you see in the image you fall in love with!
I’m always happy to suggest bead colors for you!! Feel free to send a picture of what you’re working on or what you have picked out so far and I can certainly suggest some great beads from our website to add/enhance!
Bead on, friends!!