Accurate colour representation, strictly speaking re-presentation, on screen-based devices is, I have now decided, impossible. But before I get bogged down in the philosophical depths of reality and the perception of reality, let’s just say that we don’t all see the same colour in the same way.
Shades of pale blues and pale greens are well-known for instigating disagreements between two people both looking at the same blue or is that green? I selected Colour One and Colour Two below from the pictured scarf and have placed them on different backgrounds – personally I’d call Colour One duck egg blue! Any takers?
And, as any other folk who regularly take photographs will know, the ambient light certainly makes colours appear different. It is also why there are a selection of lens filters (and photoshop equivalents) to adjust for the ambient light.
But one thing I didn’t particularly notice until I was reading about how we see colour is that (and this is blindingly obviously really) the same coloured object will look different against a different background!
This brings me back to presenting my work online using photographs. Silk has a lustre and this lustre varies with the weave. A crepe de chine has a subtle sheen and a flat crepe de chine almost no sheen. Satins and charmeuse silks are so lustrous that they could be called shiny whereas silk twills and taffetas are somewhere in the middle.
In the blurb accompanying my online shop I try to explain that silk looks different in real life not least as the slightest movement makes a lustrous scarf reflect light in an ever changing subtle way. Add this information to the variety of screens people use to shop online and people’s individual perceptions of colour I conclude that accurate re-presentation of my work is not possible.
Applying these observations to the wider world of online shopping in general (and I am sure most people have already realised this) if you are considering buying anything online and a precise shade or colour match is of paramount importance then either ask for a sample, a swatch or an off-cut, or read the returns policy so if it’s not right for you it can be sent back and you will be refunded. One small point unlike big retail brands, ASOS, Hermès and Liberty and so on, most small businesses, crafters and artisans are unable to offer free returns.
Not my favourite job – photographing squares. Of course I mean square scarves not long scarves and certainly not people! Plenty of space, good natural lighting and hopefully a still day are my preferred conditions.
My best pictures are usually taken outside, but the weather has been so grey recently it hasn’t been possible. However, today it has been full winter sunshine and what a difference that has made – people are even smiling too.
Now just need to spend a few hours in front of the computer screen photoshopping and uploading – better done on a rainy day.
With the turning of the seasons there is a change in the light levels. The animals and the plants respond, but I think human beings, even living within a 24-hour artificially lit world, sense the change.
The scarf I started in the first week of March (see Image Translations) has ended up with the final colours pale pink, light blues and a bright grass green being added as the spring sunlight has started to pour through the window. Sap green, lime green and pale yellow with a few white highlights are the colours of my spring garden and they are just the dye colours I’m mixing up. I know I’m a human being, but I also feel I am still very much on nature’s continuum.
The enduring appeal of the peacock display of colours recently caught my attention and prompted me to venture into a so-called forbidden combination. I think I first heard my Nanna declare ‘Blue and green should never be seen’, when I was a child.
How ridiculous, obviously nobody told the peacocks. And, when you think about it blue and green has been a popular and classic combination for centuries!
Dragonflies also come along in blue and green combinations providing even more inspiration if you find that splendid peacock not enough.
I have now settled on the design for this new banner. I’ve worked up the sketches and have drawn it out on the silk. It will also be a scarf.
It takes me about an hour to mix up the dyes in the shades and dilutions I’m looking for. I dab them onto a small off-cut of silk, but quite often I find once I start painting that I need to mix up one extra special highlight colour. This time it has been the dark green of the sheath-like leaves.
Like many people who work from their own studio or from home I spend many hours engrossed with my work – not great company and often resentful of interruptions, sorry. Whilst painting I listened to unabridged audiobooks borrowed from my local library. When I look at some of my past work it triggers memories of the novel I was listening to at the time of painting especially if it was a deeply moving or passionate story.
As I’m working on this piece I’m listening to ‘On Green Dolphin Street’ by Sebastian Faulks – it is beginning to get moody and intense.
It’s very easy in the middle of summer to be blinded by all the flashiness and spectacle of an abundance of colourful blooms, yet it is also when the garden is in full leaf. Green foliage, green grasses, green buds, sometimes green flowers and even green seed heads as they gently fade to their natural bleached shells.
Some leaves have been inspiring artists and craftsmen for centuries and acanthus leaf motifs can be seen all over the ancient world of the Mediterranean.
And, of course, William Morris was inspired by acanthus leaves too.
But, there are plenty of other plants with superb foliage to admire and get us designing.
Finally, it is only the second week of July, but all the aquilegias are setting their seed and providing another interesting, sculptural shape for our visual delight.