Colour Post: The Glowing Effect

Starry Night — one of the world’s most well-known paintings — has been subsumed into the image bank of my mind and probably influenced the design of my hoop quilt design, Canned Pineapples. In this post, we’ll talk about how to choose colours to achieve this effect.

Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh

Starry Night, by legendary artist Vincent Van Gogh, has inspired countless artists after him, such as musician Don McLean who wrote the song “Starry, Starry Night”. Besides the dynamic brush strokes that are Van Gogh’s signature technique, the emanating light around each star and the moon give the painting its mood.

Photo by Kitty Wilkin (Night Quilter) for The 2019 Quilter’s Planner

The design was inspired by a summer’s night camping in upstate New York with my friends (amongst them my future husband — read the full story here). Fireflies — or lightning bugs, depending where you’re from — danced in the woods, glowing like I had never seen before. The quilt design takes a traditional pineapple quilt block and randomizes the colours of the radiating pieces a bit. The effect are glowing fireflies.

Pineapple quilt block, tiny sewing

Each pineapple block uses six colours to make the glow. All you really need is some scraps in the right colours. How do we choose the “right” colours?

Note that the colour code from the pattern is in parentheses below.

Because the pieces of the pineapple block are very small (approximately 1/4″ width), solid fabrics will show this effect best. Small-scale prints can also work well. The exception is the background fabric (N) — go as crazy as you want with that! 

Pineapple quilt block

Fireflies: Choose the colour of your firefly (YL). For simplicity, white works best. Yellow is a step up in difficulty, but you can use the colours in the pattern as a guide.

Background: Choose your background fabric (N). This can be a night colour like navy, a print with dots in your firefly colour or something that looks like a natural surrounding.

A navy, a Cotton + Steel sprinkle print, or a bold print like Anna Maria Horner’s “Imposter” from her Passionflower Collection (above).

In-between colours: Next, you will choose the four “in-between” colours (YM, YD, G, B). You will want to “bridge” your firefly colour to your background.

The simplest is using a white firefly. Find fabrics that form a tone gradient from white to the general colour of your background. Here, my background fabric is a blue-grey. I used a combination of solid scraps and a chopped up ombre similar to the blue-grey of my background. Use the swatch chart provided to keep track of your colour selection.

Fabric color selection, Canned Pineapples hoop quilt pattern
Bridging the white of the fireflies (lightest at left) to the blue-grey background.

If you’re using a yellow firefly, you will want to refer to the colour wheel. Identify your yellow and your general background colour and build a loose “bridge” between them.

CMY color wheel

This colour wheel comes as a free download if you’re a subscriber of my newsletter! Sign up here: http://3rdstoryworkshop.com/newsletter

That’s it! I can’t wait to see what you come up with.

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