Taking the colours from our inspirational images, the next step is to apply these to our designs but let’s start by taking a journey into the history of colour and looking closer at some of our most commonly used colours in our collections.
Colour originated when humans started to use pigments as an alternative to carving in stone or trees to communicate. Pigments were mixed with various binders such as vegetable juice and applied with twigs or feathers. Early colours were made from charcoal and earth tones, however as time has passed the discovery of new colours has led to endless opportunities within paint boxes and dyes.
Light travels as a wave and can bounce off (reflect off) objects or gets absorbed by objects. Our eyes have special light detectors called rods and cones inside to detect movement and colours respectively. There are about 120 million rods and about 7 million cones per eye!
As our eyes are individual to us we see colours differently to one another. Sir Isaac Newton in the 1600s discovered that white light is made up of all the colours – we see this white light split up (refracted) when we look at a rainbow. A leaf for example, is seen as green because the leaf has reflected all of the green light into our eyes. The leaf has absorbed the red, orange and other colours so we do not see them. This is how we see any coloured object.
When coloured light mixes it is called additive colour mixing. It works by adding all of the coloured light and reflecting it all into our eyes. For example red light and blue light mix together too produce magenta. Mixing colours in art gives us different results as it is not additive colour mixing like light, but subtractive colour mixing. When we mix colours like dyes to create our bright yarn colours, the colours mix together and absorb a lot of the white light so we only see some of the colours reflected. So for example if we want a black or dark colour we use all of the colours which will absorb all of the colours of while light and our eyes see black.
Sometimes light travels as a particle (yes, we just said it was a wave!) which we call a photon. Photons are produced by electrons dropping an electron energy level (transitioning). When the electron drops an energy level it releases energy in the form of a photon. The amount of energy released by each photon determines the colour of light observed.
Starting with one of the earliest colours and one of our most commonly used, charcoal is a stable in any Mixter Maxter collection and popular with you as well. Early black dyes were often sold by pirates and pencil lead was so rare that armed guards would strip search mine workers as they were leaving their work in the mines in Northern England. However black poses a problem as there is no true black dye, only deep shades and combination of other colours, hence we choose to work with it’s softer, lighter tone of charcoal giving more depth to what can often be a very flat colour. Black is a complex colour with both negative and positive connotations, from fear to elegance, rebellion to sophistication, often typically associated with the unknown. However when it comes to what we wear, black is a comfortable colour that can boost confidence and it’s impossible to argue with the sophistication and elegance associated with wearing black. Plus a little black dress is one of the most common wardrobe staples. Within our Mixter Maxter collections our monochromatic designs featuring charcoal and white easily sit with any colours adding a graphic, bold design which is easy to throw on & wear with confidence for a variety of occasions. It’s easy to see why so many of you choose this colour.
Referenced – http://www.bourncreative.com/meaning-of-the-color-orange/
Colour Theory – An Essential guide to colour – from basic principles to practical applications. By Patti Mollica
Colour – Travels through the Paintbox by Victoria Finlay