Tagged Color study

The beauty of neutral

As the season and sunlight slips away, nature plays its visual tricks of on us. The chemistry of color takes hold and the natural world around us becomes neutralized. But we don’t really notice the loss of color though, because when neutral is played against itself, subtle becomes vibrant and all the negative descriptions of neutral dullness no longer make sense. Why is that?

When all colors grouped together are in the same relative clarity, the individual tonations in each show up.

Neutral on neutral; janebalshaw.com

Display a neutralized color against a fully saturated color and it will fade.  Interestingly, the brown above is the same brown as shown below.

Color on neutral; janebalshaw.com


Nature knows this trickery; in this season of brownish colors, berries are faded orange and those who turn truly crimson red only do so when they present in the pallete of intense winter contrast. Green leaves fade in autumn only because they fade transparent showing off the layers of singular colors always present, eventually loosing them to death and browning.


Autumn leaf color formula; janebalshaw.com

Another cause for thought; everything in its time, everything in its season…  Beauty is relative.

But what makes a color neutral? The dictionary defines it as “a color that does not alter its surroundings including our emotions.” From a painters point of view, neutral is a color that contains many pigments, technically called a complex color unlike color-wheel colors that only contain 2 pigments.

rusty truck color formula; janebalshaw.com

dried leaves color formula; janebalshaw.com

As an artist I have found this study of neutral to be endlessly fascinating.   Which pigment goes into a color in turn decides what other colors look great next to it.  What is the perfect beige to paint the wall behind your new burgundy sofa, which off-white is best to set into your quilt block and which shade of nude lipstick is best on your complexion.  Once you understand neutral then the world of color opens up.

I am teaching a class on this subject at the end of October this year 2017.  Follow this link to my workshop page to read more about it.

Neutrals; janebalshaw.com

16 ways, sixteen days. RECAP: lessons in art and life

IMG_4935 (1)

Breast cancer; in case you were afraid to ask. It was sixteen days of radiation after a successful surgery…just in case. During a season when I had little time to be in the art studio, I just had to do something artistically expressive so I turned my daily shoes and accessory choices into an art project. We creatives are like that; express or die.

Shoes are a metaphor for life after all; we “kick up our heels”, we “take things in stride”, we “put one foot in front of the other”…The shoe life lesson here is ALWAYS choose joy first, because I could have led with gloom (dang it).  Joy is the fuel for our existence so the rest can fall into place with grace. Quite literally, the hormones produced when experiencing joy override and numb-out the hormonal feelings of discomfort and fear. Others before have modeled this for me—Mary Ann, Dee, Bonnie, Jules, Joyce… So I offer my own example to you passing it forward.

This choosing is the hardest lesson to learn and even harder to apply. We are all so, so very busy, we all have various struggles and tribulations, our lists are endlessly long. I can’t tell you HOW to do this; you have to figure out how to prioritize it for yourself. An older woman once told a younger me, housework will always be there but your kids will not; in other words, learn to recognize what is important. At the end of our life is it the proverbial tidy that we will remember or those moments of joy and fun? I choose fun— and shoes!

And now for the art lesson…

Assembling color seems to be difficult for many people. Given all the choices it is understandable. When you walk into a paint or fabric store you may be drawn to a certain swatch but then get hung up trying to figure out what other colors to put with it.  Consider these tips:

  1. Use proportion.  Most designers use the rules of proportion when assembling color, expressed as divisions of thirds—1/3 to 2/3’s—or more accurately, expressed by the use of the golden ration 1 to 1.61803.  My daily color charts in 5 parts showed this exactly; 2 square parts to 3 square parts = the golden ratio.
  2. Use neutral. When you mix grayish, brownish, blackish or white/beige colors with colors straight off the color wheel it makes them feel more lively and more balanced.  The most playful color combinations are using the greater proportion of color wheel color and the most subdued combinations are those that favor more neutral.  My daily color charts showed this; 2 squares of color to 3 squares of neutral and vice versa.
  3. Use color theory.  To decide what other color you want to use, find your color on a color wheel then pick a harmony shown there.  I like to use the Gardeners Color wheel because it shows more divisions of color plus pastel.

Below are the color combinations I used in the series.  Feel free to use them…

I am signing off for now.  Back to my garden….


DAy 3 color grad

day 4 colors

16 ways color grad DAY 5

color grad day 6

16 color grad day 6 best

16 color grad day 8

16 color grad day 9

16 color grad day 10

16 color grad 10b

12 color grad DAY 11

16 color grad DAY 12

16 color grad DAY13b

16 color grad DAY 14b

16 color grad DAY 15

16 color grad DAY 16

The shoes I wore on the first day…because I promised.


16 ways, sixteen days. DAY 16

16 color grad DAY 16

Confetti falling from the sky, the roar of cheering crowds, bands playing…  Not really but that is what it felt like on my last day of treatment.  All my techs—past and present—were there, the nurses, the office staff and my doctor were there.  And so were my shoes.

Walking in past the clerical station….

Office manager:  Let’s see what shoes you are wearing today!  Do you change your toe nail polish every day?

Me:  No, not in real life.  Just for this game.


Techs (hugs and congratulations): Cute shoes.  Do you change your toe nail polish every day?

Me: No, not in real life.  Just for this game.

Emotions exchanged, fondness expressed, gratitude, a certificate…  Out to examination room.

Previous techs flooding in (looking in my eyes then down at  my feet):  We just want to say happy graduation day and how great it was taking care of you.  What are you wearing today?  We are bummed we missed getting to see all the changes!

Me:  Love you too!  Read my blog…

And they did…immediately.  [Hi guys!!!  :)]

Doctor and head nurse entering room: Look at those shoes!  Do you change your toe nail polish every day?

Me: No, not in real life.  Just for this game.

What a fun game this has been!

It’s their job…to make us feel better, to make us feel human, to express compassion.  And they did each and every day.  Despite the highly technical work they executed with great skill, they still took the time to play this game with me and share their lives.  The real stars of this show…

My main techs, Dana and Nicole.IMG_4822

Techs that alternated; Roxanne and SandyIMG_4826

Head nurse Natalie and alternating tech Amanda:IMG_4930

Please read my wrap up post following this one…

16 ways, sixteen days. DAY 15

16 color grad DAY 15

Frisky feet.  Feelin’ a little Italian yesterday, like kicking up some heels.  It was my second to the last treatment.   A friend who had just visited Italy once told me how amazed she was that the women there could manage walking on cobblestone streets in really high-heeled shoes.  I thought I would channel the likes of Sophia.

So I wobbled in.  Concad, New Hampsha.

Receptionists in the lobby (who didn’t know about the game):  Ok, let’s see what shoes you have on today.  Ooooow and the nail polish matches your clothes.  And the earrings and make-up too!

Me:  Why thank you.  It’s part of the game. (Explanation, etc)

Tech one:  I like your nail polish.

Me: Why thank you.

Tech two: Have you worn those before?

Well of COURSE not!  This is the whole point of the game.  But then again she wasn’t there from the beginning.



16 ways, sixteen days. DAY 14

16 color grad DAY 14b

Bitter-sweet today.  Excited about the 3-day week-end marking my third-to-the-last treatment and also finding out that this was the last time I would see one of my techs.  I hadn’t anticipated the feeling of loss…these gals have become comrades.  Bonds have formed; like being in the trenches together at DSW.

But back to the story….

Techs: Oooooooowww, look at the earrings!

Me: Walmart. [I know, I know…]

Techs: I like the ensemble.

Me:  Thank you.  Today was lots of fun. [Because EVERYone needs red shoes]

Techs in unison, smiling ear to ear: We have been reading your blog.

Panic, angst, exposure, transparency….turns out they like this like you.  My departure gift.  🙂


16 ways, sixteen days. DAY 13

16 color grad DAY13b

I felt like I was getting a cat-scan.  Flat on my back, all eyes moving up and down my body from head to toe and back again.

Tech:  You kind of have a metallic thing going on today.

Me in my head:  Oh, is that what it is?  I was just playing off the texture in the shoes. And my eye color.  And my skin tone.  And my hair color.  Oh, and the toe nail polish….

Techs:  We love that necklace and earrings.

Me: Why thank you.  It’s date night with Davie.

Too bad I wore grayed colors on a day when it was dark (and rainy) AGAIN; and when the techs work in a dark room all day.  It sans gushing.  Color lifts the spirits; but then again I know this!  There is always tomorrow.  Stay tuned…

16 ways, sixteen days. DAY 12

16 color grad DAY 12

Not-so-casual work day for me seeing clients.  Decided to pull out the dashing cruel shoes that make a statement despite the pinching of older toes.  It was worth it.

New tech: Those are AWESOME!

Old tech:  Wow, those are awesome!

Feeling very satisfied and accomplished I was magnanimously able to change the subject steering the conversation to normal life (are shoes normal life tho?).

Following it was my rotation day to scuffle over in Johnnie to see the Doctor and nurse practitioner.  The “conference” was all about—you guessed—my shoes.

Nurse Practitioner as she entered room:  Look at those awesome shoes!  Oh Dr. ——— you need to get some of those!

Me staring downward and noticing her silver heels:  Dr.——- you certainly know how to rock the shoes too!

Dr.———-:  [Big smile]

Nurse Practitioner: Where did you get them?

Me:  I don’t remember.  I have had them for years.