stories from my red thread life

Much Ado about Colour

Last night my sister came to me with a mission: she’s taking a quilting class and wanted to select nine harmonious fabrics to use in her first quilt. Because I own a vast amount of printed cotton fabric, she expected this task to be easy. It wasn’t! As she pulled out bolt after bolt and ruminated over multiple possible combinations, I started to think about what makes a colour or a print pleasing to one person and ugly to another. I spend a lot of time making decisions about colour and scale and pattern, but it was interesting to watch somebody else engaged in this process. We all know what we like when we see it – something in our brain just clicks. We live surrounded by visual stimuli and are constantly judging what we like and dislike from a multitude of choices. But I wonder how much of this is subjective, a reflection of our personal or cultural associations and biases, and how much is attributable to science. A recent (2010) study at UC Berkeley by a team of psychologists devoted to the study of colour perception and aesthetics, postulated a new theory of colour preference. “Ecological Valance Theory” [...]

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