Friday, November 15, 2013

The Value of Saturation - Off the Wall Friday

As I prodded my way through the second in my Fall series (yes only one session in my studio this week - grrrrr) - I was struck by the fabrics that were finally chosen for the piece.  So many of them I had dyed myself - most this summer using my red solo cup method.  And were they the pretty ones . . . the ones that you loath to cut into ???  No!  Of course, the ones that are getting used are the butt muddy uglies   that you take one look at when they come out of the dryer and say - OMG - what am I going to use that for????

That got me thinking  - why?  Why were these supposed uglies fitting in so well with the pretty princesses of the quilt.  And the answer - of course -is that every princess needs her ladies in waiting! Or in other words it was their level of saturation that fit so well.  What is saturation you ask?  Well, saturation is that color theory term  that commonly gets all muddied up with Value.  Saturation (also called intensity) is basically the brightness of a color.  Now that's not the light or dark of it - but rather how pure or muddy the color is.  So to change the value of a color you add white or black.  To change the saturation of a color you add grey or the complementary color.   Ohhh and the thing about both value and saturation though is both are relative to what lies around them. So it can be a bit tricky!

Its easier to see what I mean when you look at color wheels

Pure Color Wheel                                                   Saturated Color Wheel

Now I'm not opposed to using a constant level of saturation in a quilt - as my quilt Praise Hands proves.  But there I used it for a reason - I thought the intense - saturated colors invoked the mood I was trying to portray  - Joy!  Not to mention I wanted to convey the intensity of praise. 

But I would say a good rule is to mix your intensities - I usually try to get 1/4th to 1/3rd of a quilt in a different intensity.  For me it gives the eye a rest  - it gives the piece tension  - it adds a bit of variation - ohhh and yeah - it uses up those ugly fabrics that you thought you were going to have to over dye.

Anyways - my allergy meds are kicking in - I'm getting used to the time change and with your amazing encouragement last week - I'm feeling more creative.  Maybe I can kick my candy crush addiction and spend more time in the studio this week.

So what have you been up to creatively??


  1. So true about the "uglies" we all know there is no ugly fabric, just fabric that hasn't found the right partner yet. I also think that using the less saturated ones with the more sort of gives a depth to your piece. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  2. Nina: thanks for hosting the link up. love it! and your uglies are not ugly... just different! :)

  3. Excellent explanation of the difference between Value and Saturation. Nothing like a few tones to make those tints really pop!

  4. I tend to always go for saturated colors- the piece I'm working on now is one of the first where I've tried to consciously pick things that are a bit greyed out, it's not working terribly well but I'm trying!

  5. There are no ugly fabrics...
    You explanation of color use was very helpful for me...

  6. Gosh.....there are ugly fabrics? I guess I don't even think about color...saturation...and so on. I grab what I like and go with what looks good to my eye

  7. I love color! SO many things to think about and so many choices to make. Sometimes it is overwhelming, but mostly it is fun! :)


  8. thanks again Nina-Marie for hosting this gathering o blogger artists. So enjoy pouring over it on weekends. speaking o saturated, sun is going down and i must savor this in living color!!

  9. This was a great post. It is good when you are not being so hard on yourself about what you get done.

    I used to struggle with that, too. but then I started writing not a to do list, but a have done list. and I realised the amount of stuff I was actually doing.

    I really like the way your current work is coming along. maybe the time to think (virtual quilting) in between is good for us!
    Sandy in the UK


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