Do you always feel like a million bucks when you go out or more like a seventeen-dollar mess? Do you look through decorating magazines with envy while sitting on your mismatched furniture? Is each flower arrangement you attempt, a flop? You probably don’t ever draw or paint because you’re afraid of the vast color choices and don’t know where to begin. You can be glamorous, decorate like a pro, arrange flowers like a florist, and make displayable art if you choose to work in only one color. Yes, I’m telling you if you go monochromatic, you will be 100% happy with the results of any project with one exception: designing football uniforms.
Those of you who watch professional football may have heard about the controversy of the NFL Color Rush uniforms. The NFL is playing around with monochromatic-colored uniforms but did not take into account that eight percent of men are red-green color-blind. I’m not a sporty person but I assume most of the people watching football are men. So when the Buffalo Bills played the New York Jets last month, in their red and green uniforms, respectively, that eight percent couldn’t tell which team was which.
People often think of monochromatic as something using only shades of gray or black and white but it can be any color of the rainbow. Monochromatic color palettes come from a single hue and it’s tints or tones, which are created by adding white or black to lighten or darken the color.
Why would someone choose to create something in only one color, be it an outfit, the decor of a room, a piece of art or a football uniform? Because it makes your color choices easier, it looks elegant and allows you to focus on other elements in your project such as texture, composition, content, and design.
I have experimented with monochromatic color over the years. When I was finishing art school, my BFA project, Seldon Navy, consisted of a slice of a room I built where everything in it was pulled from the blues of a particular fabric. In addition to this project, I threw a Winter Blue’s party, complete with blue drinks, food, decorations, outfits and music. It was invigorating to exercise my creative muscle while looking for items for the event.
When I turned fifty, as a gift to myself, I wore pink everyday for a year. I found shopping for clothes easier and more fun. When you dress monochromatically, you tend to accessorize more than you would with an expanded color palette. It’s a numbers game. It is way easier to shop for one color of everything, purses, belts, scarves, etc. and because you spend less time putting together a basic outfit, you have more time to primp. Also, a single-colored outfit needs more trimmings to make it work.
During my Year of Living Pinkly, as I call it, I always looked put together; everything matched, including my suitcase, computer case, shoes, you name it. I got compliments fairly often on my appearance, something that has not happened before or since I’ve gone back to my old, uninspired way of dressing. I no longer have much desire to accessorize my current outfits because it’s too expensive and time-consuming to find things in multiple colors.
My latest experiment with the monochromatic was to decorate my dining room in one color. I had the walls painted a metallic gold, hung gold curtains, and laid a gold carpet. The room turned out nothing short of spectacular. I know because everyone who’s seen it has said so. The reason the room was so successful was because by picking one color I decreased my possibility of making a mistake in trying to match different colors. I just had to keep to that gold color. That room inspired me to have a gold-themed Thanksgiving dinner with golden food, family art project, tablescape and gilt-clad family members.
When you limit your color palette to one color, you already know everything will match. If you bring in different textures it makes your end result richer. Brown wool pants, with a brown satin blouse topped of by a brown felt hat, and embellished with a brown pheasant feather is food for the eye. There is no mismatched color to distract from all of those luscious textures and the wearer can’t look anything but chic.
Probably the most recognizable artist to paint in monochromatic colors was Pablo Picasso during his blue period from 1901 to 1904. He created many paintings in blues and greens, which were said to be a product of a long depression he experienced after the death of a friend. It was during this time that he created one of his most recognizable pieces, The Old Guitarist. While Mr. Picasso may have been motivated by his depression to paint in blue, I find working in one color exhilarating!
Like Picasso, we were feeling blue in Doodle Art & Design’s Monochromatic Color class this week. While getting ready, I found myself pulling together all of the components for a blue outfit. In class, we looked at images of monochromatic rooms, fashion collections, paintings, photographs, and camouflaged animals. Each child received different textured blue papers, feathers, pipe cleaners, pencils and markers. We created art pieces while listening to songs with blue in the title or lyrics. All in all, it was a bluetiful day!
If you want a fun and inexpensive project to test this one color theory, go to the grocery store and buy a bunch of different flowers in one color. Arrange them and see if they don’t look spectacular or you can check out this Doodle Art & Design project on Pinterest and post your own creations and inspirations!
Kathleen Thometz is an artist, freelance writer and founder of Doodle Art & Design, a mobile art program. She has one husband, four children and three doodle dogs, Rainbow, Sunshine and Thunderstorm. She blogs at kathleenthometz.com, has contributed to the mid and Chicago Parent.