Creating Your Personal Color
Note: Be sure to read all the way to the end for a
fascinating color profile sample by Jacci Howard Bear.
There are nearly
as many sources of color mixing information as there are colors. Well,
that may be somewhat of an exaggeration, but there are a lot of
color mixing books, videos, magazine articles, and websites. Polyform Products offers several
good articles about color mixing including information from well known
polymer clay artists, Barbara McGuire and Dr. Heather Roselli.
One of my favorite sources for color recipes is Sue Heaser's Polymer
Clay Techniques book. She includes mixes for each of her projects
and when I tried them myself, I discovered a variety of especially
An aspect of working with polymer clay that sets many artists apart is
their individual color palette. I can look at a piece of polyclay art
and know almost without fail if it is the work of Irene Semanchuk Dean,
Carol Zilliacus, Maggie Maggio, Barbara McGuire, Donna Kato, and many
more. My perception of the art and artist is based almost entirely on
the colors used in the piece. Many of the artists I mentioned, and many
others, are recognized by their "signature" color palettes.
If you want to create your own color palette, it's not really so
difficult. Here are a few tips:
1. Get your hands on a color wheel and learn some basic color
principles. Start with the obvious -- primary colors, secondary colors,
2. Understand the concept of what a "part" means. In many color mixing
guides you will see a reference to "parts" as in, "one part red plus
three parts white." So what is a part? You decide, just be consistent.
A "part" might be a 2 ounce package of clay or a one pound package of
clay. A "part" could also be a 3/4 inch square of clay cut from a
sheet of clay rolled out at the #1 setting on your pasta machine.
Consistency is the key. All "parts" used to mix your colors must be the
same. That means of your "part" is a 2 ounce pack of clay, then all
parts must be 2 ounce packs of clay. So, you might mix a lovely pink
color from one part red (one 2 ounce pack of clay) + four parts white
(four 2 ounce packs of clay). Got it?
3. Write down your color recipes. Once you start mixing, it can get
very confusing very quickly. Imagine the number of combinations you
could create if you took one primary color, blue for instance, and made
mixes of one part blue + one part yellow, then one part blue + two
parts yellow, and so on. Do that with each color and the amount of
mixes becomes astronomical.
4. Limit your palette. (See number 3 for the reasoning behind
5. Work with colors that are pleasing to you. Look around your house
and especially in your closet. What colors are you already using in
your everyday life? Decide if you want your art to reflect who you
already are, colorfully speaking, or should you try something entirely
new? Seeing what you've got can help you decide.
6. Look for new sources of color mixing information. I recently found
some new color information (new to me, at least) at About.com.
Author Jacci Howard Bear offers basic color theory along with
fascinating insight to the meaning of colors and what they symbolize.
The information is free and can be reprinted with permission.
(I've included an example at the end of this article).
7. Finally, spend some time getting to "know" colors. Learn what they
mean to different people in different cultures. Think about what
certain colors mean to you. Ask your friends about "their" colors. Go
overboard in your color journey -- what can it hurt?
Exploring personal color can be one of the most enjoyable facets of
self-discovery. Color breeds creativity for many people -- it is part
of just about every part of our lives. Creating your personal color
palette could be just the thing that will give your polymer clay art
new and exciting creative wings.
By Jacci Howard Bear
(Reprinted with permission from About.com)
Calm and Cool : Blue is calming. It can be strong
and steadfast or light and friendly. Almost everyone likes some shade
Nature of Blue: A natural color, from the blue of
the sky, blue is a universal color. The cool, calming effect of blue
makes time pass more quickly and it can help you sleep. Blue is a good
color for bedrooms. However, too much blue could dampen spirits.
Culture of Blue: In many diverse cultures blue is
significant in religious beliefs, brings peace, or is believed to keep
the bad spirits away.
Blue conveys importance and confidence without being somber or
sinister, hence the blue power suit of the corporate world and the blue
uniforms of police officers. Long considered a corporate color, blue,
especially darker blue, is associated with intelligence, stability,
unity, and conservatism.
Just as seeing red alludes to the strong emotions invoked by the color
red, feeling blue or getting the blues represents the extremes of the
calm feelings associated with blue, i.e. sadness or depression, lack of
strong (violent) emotion. Dark blue is sometimes seen as staid or
stodgy — old-fashioned.
In Iran, blue is the color of mourning while in the West the something
blue bridal tradition represents love.
Using Blue: A deep royal blue or azure conveys
richness and perhaps even a touch of superiority. Navy blue is almost
black and is a bit warmer than lighter blues. Combine a light and dark
blue to convey trust and truthfulness — banker's colors. Although blue
is a year-round color, pastel blues, especially along with pinks and
pale yellows suggest Springtime while deep blue is a colder weather
color. Create a conservative but sophisticated look with subtle
contrast by combining light and dark shades of blue.
Using Blue with Other Colors: Mix blue with green
for a natural, watery palette. Add gray for understated elegance.
Sky blue and robin's egg blue, especially when combined with neutral
light brown, tans, or beige are environmentally friendly color
Throw in a dash of blue to cool down a hot red or orange scheme. Grab
attention with the contrast of blue and yellow.
Dark blue with white is fresh, crisp, and nautical. Red, white, and
blue is a patriotic color trio for many countries, including the United
Use dark blue with metallic silver accents for an elegantly rich
Blue Color Palettes: These color palettes feature
shades of blue combined with gray, orange, peach, purple, and earthy
browns as well as palettes with multiple blues.
Language of Blue: The use of blue in familiar
phrases can help a designer see how their color of choice might be
perceived by others, both the positive and negative aspects.
* True blue - someone loyal and faithful
* Out of the blue - unexpected (could be positive or
* Blue ribbon - first rate, top prize
* Blueblood - person of noble birth, royalty
* Bluestocking - well-read or scholarly woman
* Bluebook - register of socially prominent people
* The Blues (capitalized) - popular style of music
sometimes characterized by melancholy melodies and words
* Baby blues - Blue eyes (also see Bad blue words)
* Feeling blue - feeling sad or depressed
* Blue devils - feelings of depression
* The blues (not capitalized) - depression, state of
* Blue Monday - feeling sad
* Baby blues - post-partum depression
* Singing the blues - bemoaning one's circumstances
* Blue laws - laws originally intended to enforce
certain moral standards
* Blue language - profanity
* Bluenose - puritanical individual
* Into the blue - entering the unknown or escape to
* Out of the blue - unexpected (could be positive or
Blue Words: These words are synonymous with blue or
represent various shades of the color blue.
Sapphire, azure, beryl, cerulean, cobalt, indigo, navy, royal, sky
blue, baby blue, robin's egg blue, cyan, cornflower blue, midnight
blue, slate, steel blue, Prussian blue.