‘The purest and most thoughtful minds are those which love colour the most’ John Ruskin
I have been interested in colour theory for some time, I understood the basic principles but could never fully get to grips with how best to ‘properly’ build a palette. My way of putting together colours in my work has always been quite intuitive. As my day job is in clothing design I have been creating palettes for years and have endless pages of colour inspiration on my Pinterest boards, but I felt I was struggling to translate this into my illustration work. I always found myself always reaching for my favourite and failsafe tubes of watercolour when painting. I was stuck in a serious colour rut.
I first discovered the colour tutor, aka Juliet Docherty, on Instagram and have been following her account for some time. Juliet’s feed was a riot of beautiful shades and palette inspiration but it was her one day colour workshop course at her home studio in Cambridge that piqued my interest. Many of the illustrators I admire had taken her course and had showcased gorgeous micro palettes in bold swooshes of paint on their feeds.
Juliet runs small workshops with a limited number of students, there were four of us on the workshop I attended on a sunny Saturday. Juliet welcomed us into her beautiful home with a lovely cup of coffee on arrival. We introduced ourselves, donned our painting aprons and sat down to our immaculately laid out workstations.
The day was a mix of Juliet running us through a detailed and thought provoking presentation, as well as encouraging us to try out exercises as we went along. We got tactile with the paint using our fingers and a chunky palette knife to get mixing and experimenting.
Juliet has an incredible wealth of knowledge and is a wonderful teacher. Even by the time we stopped for our lunch break I could see myself looking at colour in a new way. As we sat in Juliet’s garden in the sunshine (and enjoying a glorious homemade cream tea!) I was looking at the colours around me differently, seeing the shades they were made up of, how they interacted with the shades next to them and seeing mini colour palettes everywhere!
In the afternoon we played around with taking elements from the colour wheel, mixing and stirring and just playing with putting shades together to create a palette. Juliet shared examples from her gorgeous library of books and broke down how artists and illustrators put colours together, and manipulated their palette to make their work really sing.
I left at the end of the day armed with Juliet’s presentation, and a wealth of notes and colour samples I’d made throughout the day. When I got home I couldn’t wait to play around with my paints and see what shades I had and how I could experiment with them to get some new colour combinations in my work.
‘It is the best possible sign of a colour when nobody who sees it knows what to call it.’ John Ruskin
Since coming back from the workshop I have been much more intentional when planning out the colours I use in a piece of work. I have also got out of my colour rut and have been making much better use of the neutral shades in my work. I had some feedback about adding more neutrals into my work from my visit to the Bologna Book Fair, but I wasn’t sure how best to put into practice before the workshop.
I would implore anyone to check out Juliet’s website and book a spot on her course. Whether you are a professional artist or illustrator, even if you have a good eye for colour, working through the course with Juliet has so many benefits. I also think interior designers, textile and fashion designers as well as anyone that has a creative eye would get so much out of the day.
I am not local to Cambridge but made the stay into a weekend break and stayed at the most glorious air B and B out in the countryside. As a Wiltshire girl I always found the landscape around Cambridgeshire and Suffolk a little bleak (where are all the hills?! It’s just not right!) but I saw the place with new eyes and was totally enchanted.
For more info please do check out Juliet’s website; https://www.colourtutor.com/
and Juliet’s Instagram page; https://www.instagram.com/colourtutor/