Monday, February 02, 2009

Elements and Principles of Art: Geek Alert! - Colour

Colour Wheel - on blog
I like me my learnin', and one of my favourite things is when you have those magic little moments where your art and humanities education appears to have applications in real life.
And by real life, I mean knitting.

Elements and principles of art are a set of techniques used in and guidelines applied to looking at and creating art.
Slightly clarified, here's a list that may illustrate the point:

Elements of art include colour, lines, shape, space, texture and value.
Principles of art include balance, dominance, movement/repetition, rhythm, unity and variety/contrast.

This list varies slightly depending on who you ask, of course. I've just lifted the lists from my grade 9 sketchbook.

Not all these terms are particularly obvious when you're choosing a knit to knit for yourself, or even to design for yourself. But I recently realized these ideas surface frequently when I'm ogling clothing shopping and yarn fondling knit-planning.

Today is my first installment of elements and principles of art, and how yarn gets tangled up in them.

Colour is the particular hue that is seen when light is reflected off an object.
Yeah, no kidding. But colour is a huge, gargantuan and usually very fun element in knitting.
Colourwork has been much-discussed in knitting, with wonderful overviews here on Knitty and other resources on the interwebs (including this site that'll "do your colours" for you).
So what do I have to add to the topic? Not so much (as you can see, I chose a very easy topic to start with!)

All I can tell you is how it factors in to my knitting:

-no matter how attractive the colour combinations appear in that variegated hank, just don't buy it. Pooling is generally not your friend, unless the various shades in the hanks are so close to each other they're basically colour-on-colour (and note I say generally - I believe all yarns have a purpose, but when it comes to garments like sweaters, it's not so cool).
-black yarn, while it might be attractive as an overall neutral, is pretty much to be avoided (unless you have a retina-burningly bright light under which to knit). On the positive side, it hides a multitude of knitter-error. Ask me how I know.
-I love the look of colourwork, and if you have the pluck and fortitude to attempt it at its more complicated end, my hats goes off to you quite enthusiastically. If used properly/sparingly, it can create focus and interest in a knit. If used intemperately you might end up looking like a Victorian textile. I mean, I like sofas and curtains and rugs, but not wrapped around my torso.

Next week: Line!


Hilary said...

I can't wait for more of these lessons! I wish I had the time to study color theory -- 'tis such an interesting intersection of science and art.

LittleCanoe said...

Flashbacks of art school!
p.s. I kind of like it.

Ellen said...

Great post!
Yeah, I think I've learned my lesson with varigeted yarns...I currently have several skeins that are being especially annoying. :D