Understanding Colour

1,” Johannes Itten was an artist, designer and educator who spent much of his life exploring
how colour works, especially the dynamic relationship between colours. This is one of his
Draw two grids of squares, filling one with colours that you like and the other with
colours you dislike. Then put the two grids side by side and ask the question ‘which one
looks better?’ “

In order to avoid jumping straight into my laptop, I used embroidary silks to pick my favourite colours. They have so many gorgeous shades, its fun to select a good handful. I’ve used quite a lot of very bright colours so far with this course, but I actually get very drawn to quite subdued “gentle” colours. Anyway, I loved the sea greens, pinks, corals, purples, blues, dove grey and soft browns…

photo 2


In contrast, I didn’t feel drawn to the dark colours or lemon yellow. I really wouldn’t want to wear bottle green, navy or nasty mustards, so this influenced my choice!

photo 1

Next, to the laptop! I sampled the colours from these pics as a starting point, though it loses a bit of subtlety along the way, unfortunately.

Anyway, here’s the grids

Basic RGB

colours i don't like

Wow. this has been really interesting! I’ve often thought some of my colour combinations can look a bit insipid, but I didn’t know why. Equally, these darks don’t disappear into sludge like I thought they would, even when I left off bright yellow. The colours look a lot richer than I was expecting!

2, “Try and find different combinations of two colours to illustrate each of these words:”

“Angry, Brave ,Creative,  Dangerous, Energetic, Familiar ,Gregarious,
Hopeful, Independent , Jumpy,  Kinetic , Luxurious , Masculine , New,
Open , Precious , Quiet , Reasonable , Sociable, Tasteful, Unhappy ,
Vital, Wonderful, Extra special , Youthful, Zany”

I used paper and pens to begin this exercise. Some of them are a bit garish, or not necessarily combinations that I prefer… but they seem to just fit the word.


Its interesting that I loved the thought of doing this, and couldn’t wait to get started, but it turned out to be harder than I anticipated! As I look over these now, it’s tempting to make some changes… Grrr! Oh well. Here’s the computer version.

colour and emotion


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