Color Scouting: Late Spring

flower field color scheme

Yesterday, the lighting outside was fantastic. The weather couldn’t quite make up it’s mind as to if it wanted to rain or not.  This indecision created a crisp bright sky with ominous shadows.

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What is color scouting?



Simple Color Wheel

37597_zoomRed is a very intense color with high viability.  It is a warm, energetic color that reflects strength, health, & energy.  Red represents joy, passion, sexuality, willpower, courage, & anger.

People who prefer red are often outgoing, & energetic individuals who embrace life with passion. They have a positive outlook on life, & do not like to be bored.  Quiet people with a preference for red, may feel the need for the warmth, strength & life-giving qualities of the color. Red is a color chosen by men, women, & children alike.

What colors go with red?

Red is a bold color that makes a nice splash to a neutral pallet.

Red is the opposite of green on the color wheel.

A light tint of blue creates a nice contrast.

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 oraOrangeOrange is a warm color that combines the energy of red with the happiness of yellow.  It is associated with joy, sunshine, happiness, & creativity.  It has an invigorating effect that stimulates mental activity.

Orange is preferred by flamboyant, fun-loving people, & is highly accepted by youth.

What colors go with orange?

Red & yellow can be paired well with orange.

Blue is the opposite color of orange on the color wheel.

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il_570xN.341784807Yellow, the warm color of sunshine, inspires joy & happiness. It arouses cheerfulness & stimulates mental activity. Men often perceive yellow as a color for lighthearted children.

People who prefer yellow are those who are mentally adventurous.  They are clear precise thinkers who have lofty ideas & may at times shun responsibility preferring freedom of thought & action.

What colors go with yellow?

Yellow tends to disappear into white, so it usually needs a dark color to highlight it such as brown.

It pairs well with orange or green.

It is opposite of violet on the color wheel.

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bright leafGreen is the color of nature.  It symbolizes growth, harmony, & freshness. Green is the most restful color to the human eye.

Green is the choice of gentle sincere people who are often frank. They are community-minded people who can be fairly sociable, but prefer peace at any price.

What colors go with green?

Green is a cool color that goes will with yellow or blue.

Red is the opposite color of green on the color wheel.

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il_fullxfull.375252696_5kz2Blue is the color of sky & sea.  It is often associated with depth, stability & tranquility.  It symbolizes trust, loyalty, wisdom, confidence, faith, & trust. Blue is considered beneficial to body & mind by producing a calming effect.

Blue is most preferred most by males.

What colors go with blue?

Blue is a cool color that sets opposite of orange on the color wheel.

It goes well with green or violet.

When blue is used with warm colors like yellow, & red, it can have a strong visual impact.

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Violet is a cool color that combines the stability of blue with the energy of red.  It is associated with royalty, wisdom, dignity, creativity, mystery, & magic.  It symbolizes power, luxury, & ambition.

Violet is often preferred by women & children.

Light purple evokes romantic & nostalgic feelings, while dark purple evokes gloom & sadness.

What colors go with violet?

Blue is a great color to combine with purple, or red can be used for a vibrant contrast.

Violet sets opposite of yellow on the color wheel.

Color Harmony

I have often heard knitters comment that they find it difficult to combine colors for a project.  This is one reason why so many knitters choose to strictly follow a pattern’s recommendation for yarn choice.  However, selecting colors for a project can be a lot of fun & is an important part of the process in making an item unique. The colors are what give a piece personality & makes an item personal.  So let’s talk about color harmony.

Color harmony is a term used to  describe color groupings that have a pleasing visual effect.  Most knitters have a basic sense of color harmony.  We know what we like & what we don’t like. We know what colors & color combinations we find appealing, but for the most part we match colors according to gut instinct. Today, I want to discuss color harmonies a bit more technically.

complementary wheelComplementary colors are two colors that are opposite each other on the color wheel.  There are 3 pairs of complementary colors.  They are Red & Green, Orange & Blue, and  Yellow & Violet.

5985480056_a77d755354_zThese color combinations have a high contrast with each other, that make them tricky to manage. In knitting, I find it best to avoid these color combinations unless one color is used for a slight embellishment.


Analogous colors are those that are found next to each other on the color wheel.  For example, red, orange & yellow are analogous colors.  So are yellow, green & blue.  It is best to choose one color to use as a main color, another color as a contrast color, & a third as an accent color.


Triadic colors colors are evenly spaced around the color wheel such as red, yellow, & blue.  These color combinations are contrasting & create a vibrant color scheme. To keep this color harmony in balance,  choose one color to be the main color, & the other two as accent colors.


There are 4 colors that make up a Tetradic or rectangle color scheme.   These four colors are divided into 2 complementary pairs.  This color schemes leaves room for a number of possible variation, but the number of warm colors should equal the number of cool colors.

Want more information? 

Here are some more examples of the color schemes described above.

Here is a link to even more color theory that I did not go into here.

Did you know that the different colors have different meanings? We’ll talk about these meanings in the final post in the School of Color series.  Look for it next week?


Color Scouting


Last month Stephen West shared with his readers about a new photo blog that he has started called  Color Scout. It is a fantastic inspiration in color.  Here is what he wrote about it:

I love taking walks with the purpose of color scouting because it makes me see things differently and experience the city with a different perception of time. Usually, I’m walking or biking with a destination in mind, but when I look for interesting color combinations I’ll walk down different streets and discover new pockets in the city I would never find otherwise.

I also notice I use my sense of sight in a more specific way, looking close-up and shifting to a wide overall perspective in order to find appealing colors. I think it’s a very healthy practice because so many days are spent doing something goal or task oriented. It feels good to take a break and shift focus because it allows something new to enter and affect you.

I pass several colors that are boring to me, so capturing an unexpected color and textural combination feels like finding treasure or discovering a secret that nobody else knows about. Picking yarns for a new knitting project can be the same. Some yarn colors don’t evoke any excitement, but you know when the perfect yarn comes along and makes you feel like everything is just right. Combining certain colors communicates very specific moods and when you add color to shape and texture, you’ve potentially discovered a cozy treasure chest full of magic.

I’m sure several color scout photos will inspire some new knitting designs, but in the meantime I’m enjoying the practice of observing my surroundings with my “color glasses” on.”


I have to admit,  I am naturally a very distracted individual.   I hate to drive for this reason.  I would rather let my eyes wonder to what is around me than have to stay focused on the road.  Small details capture my attention, & I often stop mid-sentence to comment on the color of something.  I have always been this way. I simply made the connection that it was a quirky trait that I picked up while growing up with my dad who is an artist, & from being an artist myself.  I have never put much thought into it or used this trait in a constructive manner, but Stephen has inspired me to be more intentional about my distractions. This is such a great way to explore a color in relation to other colors & experience the effect the combination has.

Did you know that colors set a mood. They inspire us to move & they beckon us to rest. A color can cause us to be still & quiet, or it can cause us to feel LOUD & excited.  Research shows that different colors stir different emotions in us. They even have a biological effect inside of us.  Because of this, colors are both powerful & personal.

Red branches in winter

I want to take a closer look at this & explore colors more deeply.  I want to discover the influence that colors have in my life, how they effect my artwork, & how they effect me.

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I found these red branches yesterday while I was out sledding.  I love the burst of energy they add to the quiet, still neutrals that surround them.