Heather Thomas, 2011, Landauer Publishing, ISBN: 978-1-935726-09-8, $29.95
Subtitled “The basics & beyond,” this book is an outstanding resource for needleworkers. While the principles of both color and design are universal, it can be really hard to apply books design for painters and illustrators to our own media of threads and stitches.
That’s why books such as this are important. What that doesn’t say is how immensely useful this book is. Thomas is a quilter herself and teaches workshops in both color and design. Her experience has informed the organization of the book, which is divided into three sections.
The first section is about color. She goes over the basics of color and color theory, giving a two-page spread to each of the colors in the 12-color wheel. She gives a range of tints, tones, and shades for each, shows fabric and fiber art examples and gives a summary of the properties of each color. There is also a section of the psychology of the color. You may find yourself disagreeing with her ideas, I did, but the factual information is beautifully organized and well-thought out.
After each color is discussed she has a section on the ways colors work together. There’s lots to love here. She discusses color schemes, including many that aren’t well-known. She also look at subjects such as complex colors and color dominance, that are important when working with fabric and thread, but less important in painting.
The second section of the book covers design. Here is where needlepointers will feel as if they are understood. Standard texts on design will talk about the same matters, the elements and principles of design, but seeing them at work in a far more complex painting can make it difficult to apply to our more simple works.
In this section she has a brief description of the element or principle, pictures of several works illustrating it and, often, great detail about the more important aspects, such as texture, and how they work in fiber arts. This is where the book really shines. I got so many ideas reading this section that are already enlivening my work.
The last section is a workshop of 12 lessons designed to be done in sequence. Each lesson has a specific problem to solve, for example “exploring the use of color scale and contrast”. In the text she goes into more detail about the problem and how to approach it. There is a sidebar that summarizes the goal of the workshop and the areas of the book that are applicable. In this same sidebar there are color keys. Many examples of solutions to this problem are shown with comments. At the end are some hints and some questions for self-analysis.
As you go through the workshop the problems get more complex. Working through them would really expand your knowledge, confidence, and creativity.
I am so completely delighted with this book, with the ideas Thomas brings forth and how well everything is presented. My only wish is that she would have included some needlework in the many pieces of fiber art she showed.