Dreaming in Color - Palette Play with Jean Wells


Back to school for me is more time for creative pursuits. I am putting the garden to bed, and this weekend I cleaned the studio. I found so many lost treasures, and color stories started presenting themselves right before my eyes.Palette Play” is one of my favorite pastimes. Usually a printed piece of fabric, a snapshot, or a memory will spark an idea. At this point in the creative process, I just play and have the question, "What if?", in the back of my mind. I pull any color that seems to want to play with the rest of them.

This floral print from my stash caught my eye. I kind of like the true red with the raspberry, and the pinks set on the soft rust that just felt like fall. To balance out all of the red families there is a bit of forest green, gold, deep navy, light blue, and white.


The fabric palette got my creative juices rolling and I started pull friends that might work in the creative process. As you can see from the pieces below I “pushed the blue” to a warmer turquoise and it felt right so I kept it. I also stepped up the reds.


I always feel better during this time of discovery when I cut into the fabric and make a couple of samples to see what relationships I can create. As you all know a color will look different depending who it is next to. Take a look at the two pincushions below and you will see that in the first one the colors are richer and there is more depth (read the end of this post to see how you can win one of the pincushions). 


In the second one I added the soft pink and the light gold. I am not sure about the pink. It almost feels like it should have been narrower. As I look back if I had taken more clues from the fabric I would have realized that the light pink is like little brush strokes. I could have repeated that in the composition and it would have worked better.


With my explorer hat in place, I wanted to try to simplify the colors using solids for my next experiment.


Here are more experiments.


Here is an example of pushing a color lighter, darker, brighter, duller in one family. I use this technique to create variety in my compositions.


What I have learned from an afternoon of palette play with these fabrics is that I will make a larger quilt from these and develop the plan working intuitively. Referring back to the two pincushions, my favorite discovery is the raspberry color and how it created more interest in each composition.

I teach ongoing workshops at the store using my two books Journey to Inspired Art Quilting and The 2nd Edition of Intuitive Color and Design as the foundation for gaining confidence to trust your instincts and dive into the creative process. I purposely put text in the books about the creative process, and encouraging words that will help students who cannot be in the classroom.

Do you want to win one of Jean's pincushions? All you need to do is leave a comment on this post by Oct. 6th. We'll draw two names from the commenters on Oct 7th and announce the winners on the blog. Be sure to check back to see if you've won, so we can get in touch to ship your prize. 

Congrats to Kathy Sperle and Carmen Che! You've each won one of Jean's pincushions. Please get in touch with your address.