I’ve started a City and Guilds course – specifically, a Certificate in Design and Craft, with a focus on patchwork and quilting – and recently we had our first weekend class.
Our theme was colour, and this was the first of five basic design modules. (The others: line, texture, shape, and form.)
The course should take around two years in total. One of my personal aims is to codify and make explicit what I’m learning, so you can expect somewhat regular updates as we go along.
Spending a weekend immersed in colour was … oh, goodness, it was wonderful.
Does colour electrify you the way it does me? Does a good hit of colour leave you rocking and a-reeling? Does the right combination of this and that feel like the quenching of a deep thirst?
I found my physical response stronger than I would have guessed, actually. We were half way through the first morning when I happened to pause and take stock of my body.
I was … how shall I put this delicately? … exhibiting classic symptoms of arousal. Ahem. Apparently, playing intensively with colour is a good way to activate the pleasure centres of the Léan. Note to self.
(I didn’t tell the teachers…)
It wasn’t all thrills…
A monster called “This Really Is Too Easy” (aka TRITE) showed up too.
The tasks we had to complete in class were all relatively simple – painting gradients, making colour-wheel and colour-scheme collages, that sort of thing.
This I found vaguely irritating, because I always want to be making Splendid!Things! and stretching my capacities and working at multiple conceptual and aesthetic levels and … well, let’s be honest, a colour-wheel collage doesn’t really do that.
Nothing I produced in this class particularly scratched my I made a Splendid!Thing! itch. Nor did my finished pages in any way do justice to the blaze of enthusiasm I was feeling throughout the class.
TRITE wasn’t too happy with this. Where, he wanted to know, were the whizz and the bang? When was I going to start making something impressive?
TRITE thinks that any time not spent actively seeking to impress is a waste. And probably dangerous. Because if once we let our standards slip, where will it end? Perdition! Annihilation! Doom! That’s where.
And yet, as I was eventually able to reassure him, the simplicity was also soothing. Because these are – yes, it’s obvious to everyone except poor old TRITE – exercises.
I’ll say that again: exercises.
They’re not meant to be works of art.
They’re not meant to push the boundaries of creative expression.
They’re meant to enable us to move methodically through the space we’re exploring, laying down breadcrumb trails, hammering in surveying stakes, clearing undergrowth and marking out foundations.
They are – we hope – the underpinnings of a new understanding that will inform and enrich our work. Which is why I’m doing the course in the first place. Whee!
(I wish to note, notwithstanding, that I do now have a burgeoning mass of colour-related design ideas, with more being born every time I think about it. It remains to be seen how many of these make it out of my head…)
The theme of the second weekend class is line, and, unfortunately I’ll be missing it on account of my trip to Portland for Rally. I’ll have some catching up to do after I get back!
Where do you stand on colour? I’m not asking for intimate revelations here (though, you know, feel free…) – but I’d be fascinated to hear how you experience the colours you love most.