Saturday 1 May 2021

Colour Theory: The Four Seasons

I am obsessed with colour.  Not much trumps a beautiful colour palette for me.  That might be one of the reasons I stuck with quilting after making my first quilt.  I remember saying to my mum that I didn't think quilting was for me.  Imagine that! 

That was in 2012 and I was at that stage where, I didn't know what to put with what and was afraid to cut into my first fat quarter bundle, I had bought on Ebay.  My mum told me not to be daft, trust my instincts and get on with it!  Before she retired mum was a manager of a specialty food shop and dressed the windows.  She was very proud of her skill and woe betide anyone who touched her display of chocolate boxes or cheese selections!

She was right.  We all have a unique way of seeing the world and what looks green to me looks blue to you. So I started getting into colour theory and made a bunch of colour wheel quilts, rainbow quilts, squares inspired by Josef Albers, high contrast, contrast, get the idea.

So when colour theory came up I was really excited and then really stumped!  I didn't fancy repeating something I had already done and was lost at what to play with next. 

Inspiration hit last month when the many birthdays that happen in March and April (think its something to do with the summer holidays!) led to many purchases, one of which was Rachel Hauser's book "The Quilter's Field Guide to Color".  I bought it for a quilty friend as I had taken Rachel's Color Intensive course many years ago and loved it.  Rachel's take on colour starts with the colour wheel but goes in the direction of colour emotion and themes.  One of those is the 4 Seasons.  

I thought I could explore that a bit in this challenge as I had focused on Winter and the word Frosty to select fabrics for this quilt design, also by Rachel Hauser, called the Penny Sampler.  The idea was low volume frosty fabrics but warmed up by the colours of a coal fire (don't ask me where the green came from - its seafoam by Kona and just seemed to work nicely with the other fabrics).

So having done winter I thought something with the other 3 seasons as well could be fun.  I also had a photo frame that was idly creating a tripping hazard in the hall, that I thought I could repurpose (it had been right by a window and the lovely watercolours I had bought in Paris had faded badly).  

I had a plan of sorts but this turned out a lot harder than I thought it would be.  I limited myself to 4 colours: Green for the grass,  Blue for the Sky, Yellow for the sun and Pink for the flowers that bloom at each season.

Summer and Autumn were tough.  I don't think I quite nailed them but there is enough difference between the other seasons to go with it. Summer being vibrant, saturated colours - nature explodes in colour and Autumn the same but fading, hints of gold and fading light.

So fabric selected what to do with it?  I first thought of circles, then squares.

I didn't think this would work with the prints I had so went with this in the end:

In fabric it looked like this:

Biggest blue sky and more green in Summer and way less in Winter.  Sun is low on the horizon in Winter and very pale.  Baby Pink in Spring when growth is new, hottest in Summer, Fading in Autumn and back with a bang in Winter for the holiday celebrations; think Holly or Poinsettias.
I added in very simple free motion quilting to hint at the seasons.  A daffodil for Spring, Daisies for Summer, a Leaf for Autumn and a snowdrop for Winter.

 Then popped them in the frame and up on the wall.

For some reason I put them in in reverse order but I like it like this and it brightens up the room so I'm keeping it this way.  This was a challenge and working from stash to pull 4 colours, same but different, was tough.  Not sure its 100% successful but I feel like I learned something more about colour in the process and am very glad to have had the opportunity to give it a try.


  1. I really like your thought processes, Ruth! It's interesting what you say about colour emotions and themes and that you settled on colours for seasons. I settled on a season too and didn't think to discuss the emotional impact of colours!

  2. The color quality of the light is how I know the seasons -like the golden of late summer rolling in to the clear whiter light of autumn that surrounds the falling leaves. I think it is fabulous how you captured the light of each season using just four colors. I enjoy your thought process as well! And, as an added bonus, you won't have to worry about tripping any more!

  3. Interesting process. I like how you made your decisions on what to do for each season. Nice results.

  4. I love your process with this. Beautiful colors for each season. Nice work!

  5. I really enjoyed reading about how you went about this challenge and also seeing your previous quilts. I love the way you have shown the seasons by just using colour (apart from a little stitching of the flowers and leaves) and I really like the way you have displayed them together in the frame :)

  6. I really like these little quilts Ruth, what a great idea to represent the seasons of the year through colour alone. It is such a deceptively simple concept but not so easy to execute well and you have definitely achieved that!

  7. I enjoy seeing the finished quilts for our challenges, but really enjoy reading the thought process each of us goes through to come up with our pieces. I especially enjoyed yours, and I like how you repurposed the frame, made those blocks and quilted them and now have them displayed. How fun!