Tag Archives: quilt groups

Color Temperature

Fabric Fever: When Color Temperature is Cause for Concern

In these winter days, especially now, having a fever is cause for concern. Staying home and

Does you fabric have a temperature?

away from others gives me more time with my fabric, where temperature has also been on my mind.  Last year, I started teaching a monthly Zoom class on Color & Composition through the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum and our color focus last month was about temperature.  Here is a bit of what we discussed…

What is Warm? What is Cool?

The exact dividing line between warm & cool colors has been an open topic for centuries.

various versions of color temperature

What is your preference?

Your preference likely depends on your medium: a digital graphic artist lives in a different color world than a fiber art quilter.  Here is what I work with…

my take on color temperature

Here are my play groups for warm and cool colors.

I also think of red and green as temperature neutral.  They can function with either play group, but will be the coolest kids in the warm group, and the hottest kids in the cool group.

color temperature - warm

What’s cool in the warm group?

color temperature - cool

What is warm in this cool group?

How is Temperature a Tool?

It’s a fact that warm colors advance and cool colors recede!  In a composition, we can create a sense of depth using temperature.  Warm colors will seem closer to us and cool colors will fall to the background.  Or do they?  Do we know this because someone told us, or because we have experienced it?  I say, “You don’t really own that knowledge until you test it out.”  

So, I created a series of simple compositions of a box on a background.  These are only  8 x10 inches, easy to make, and keep on hand for future reference.

Warm vs Cool – Round 1

First, here is a box in a warm color sitting on a cool color background. 

Does the box visually pop off the surface?

Now, here is the reverse: a cool color box on a warm color background.

What about this box?

If the concept holds true, the first version should appear to have more depth, and the background should fight for dominance in the second.  What do you think?

Warm vs Cool – Round 2

In my next experiment, I pitted warm and cool colors against each other in the same composition.  Using a temperature neutral color green for the back ground, I put a large and small box together in the composition.  Size will indicate to the viewer that the larger box is closer, but, how does color temperature amplify, or mute that message?  


Warm vs Cool in Pictorial Quilts

These examples are very dramatic, but the concept can be used in more subtle ways.  Color temperature is relative.  Even within the “Warm” or “Cool” color play groups, each color will appear warmer, or cooler depending on what color plays next to it.  For example, orange is cooler than yellow, but warmer than red.  Also, blue is cooler than green, but warmer than violet. 

I use this concept in all of my work.  Look through my genre and portrait galleries to see how warm tones advance from the cooler backgrounds.  When more than one person is included in a composition, I employ subtle temperature changes in flesh tones to make one figure more prominent, or appear closer than another. 

Which figure has the warmer complexion?

How does temperature amplify depth in this piece?

Experience is the best teacher

Now, if you really want to own knowledge of this concept, you need to conduct your own experiences.  It can be a simple as cutting out some circles of various sizes and colors, and then experiment with placing those circles on different backgrounds.  You don’t even need to fix them permanently.  Try one version, take a photo, rearrange, and take another photo.

If you try this, share a photo of your experiment with me:  Lea@leamccomas.com

Learn More About Color Concepts

Every month, I teach an online Color & Composition class through the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum.  We meet via Zoom on the 4th Saturday of every month from 1:00-3:00 (Mountain Time zone).  Each meeting is a chance to explore a color concept, a color scheme, and a composition concept.  Come every month, or participate when you can.  The cost is $20/ session. Click this link to join us.

Here is what we’ll be exploring at our next meeting on January 23:

Color Concept: Creating Depth

Color Scheme: Analogous

Composition Concept: Variety & Unity

Sign up for the next Color & Composition class with Lea McComas


Fibonacci Sequence Strip Quilt

This week I want to share with you a quilt made by my friend, Jeanne Lounsbury.  She made a strip quilt for her son using the Fibonacci Sequence (1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8,…).  When she shared it with our local quilt group, I got really excited and thought others would appreciate it, too.  She used my favorite hues of blue with a pop of red.  Here is the link to the Fibonacci Sequence Strip Quilt video.

I’m currently in the middle of my 2-week winter vacation from school and am thoroughly enjoying the extra time to work in my studio.  Next week, I should be ready to share with you my latest piece.  Stay tuned.


Student Work

I’ve done a lot of traveling in the last couple of months: spoke to several guilds, attended quilt shows, and taught a workshop.  It IMG_4818has been  wonderful to meet and talk with people about their quilting and to share my techniques.  In between all of that I’m also hearing from people who have read  my book.  I love it when they send pictures of what they have accomplished.

Great work, Judy!

Great work, Judy!





One reader, Judy, sent me this photo of her with her friend Jane, and the thread-painted portrait she made of Jane.  I was pretty impressed.  Thanks for sharing.



Finally, here are photos of some of the ladies in my Thread-Painted Portrait workshop  at Quilter’s Station in Lee’s Summit, MO. What a delightful group.

First-time thread-painter, Janet. Go girl!!

First-time thread-painter, Janet. Go girl!!

Karen building on basic skills

Karen building on basic skills

Shirley was the speed demon

Shirley was the speed demon



Jane adding to an already extensive skill set.

Jane adding to an already extensive skill set.

Clara had thread-painted landscapes, now faces

Clara thread-painted landscapes, now faces

Barb drove hours to be with us--what energy.

Barb drove hours to be with us–what energy.
















Now, I’m preparing for a workshop and some lectures that I’ll be giving at the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham, England in August. Will I see you there?



Festival in UK

LOOK! A quilt and a prize.

LOOK! A quilt and a prize.

I’ve just returned from the Festival of Quilts inBirmingham, England.  It was fabulous.  Some of you know that attended last year and arrived expecting to see my quilt, Turkish Bread Boys on display, only to discover that it never arrived.  Well, this year it did and the Boys took second place in the Pictorial Quilt category.

Once again, I traveled by myself and that enabled me to stumble into some great experiences.  The first night in my hotel I met two quilters from Ireland who knew me from The Quilt Show website.  Rita and Janet were warm and friendly and had a great enthusiasm for quilting and more than a few questions related to the topic “What is up with those Americans”.  They led me to other TQS people who invited me to dinner.  This was a group of people from 5-6 different countries who had only known each other through a

quilt chat room until they came together at the festival.  We spent the evening telling stories, laughing, and  sharing ideas.  I have to ask, “How often does something like that happen?”  Not often enough in my life.

The TQS gang

The TQS gang


Who Has TIme for Art?

 Ah, September, that time of year when I go back to work teaching pubic school and life suddenly gets very hectic.  While I’m doing better this year at parceling out some time each day to devote to my art, I must admit that I’m not actually making art, I just do lots of things related to art.

For example, this morning I’m writing a blog about not doing art. Yesterday, I got up and had a lovely phone conversation about my experience at the Surface Design Conference in 2011.  That ended with my promise to write a paragraph testimonial of sorts that I did not get around to doing because I had to race to a yoga class.  After yoga to de-stress, my husband and I engaged in a little home improvement by finishing the last of the stairs that we are covering with bamboo flooring.  Just 4 1/2 hours later, we are in the final phase of our flooring project that is now entering it’s 5th year. Then, the day before that, I drove down to Denver for the regional meeting of SAQA.  It was a great time to get together with other art quilters that I don’t see often enough, but the entire trip was 6 hours, not for the purpose of of doing art, but of talking about doing art.

Suddenly, 2 thoughts have come to me.  First, wouldn’t it be great if yoga came AFTER home improvement.  Second, given the pace of our flooring project, why would I think that art would come any faster.

This coming week, I’ve still got to write that paragraph, pick up a quilt from the photographer, follow up with British customs to try to locate my lost quilt, and attend an open house to encourage folks to sign up for classes I’ll be teaching this fall.  After that, I get ready to attend a 3-day workshop with Katie Pasquini Masopust.  Thankfully, I had the presence of mind to sign up for this workshop 2 months ago, knowing it would be desperately needed. I believe there is a real chance that I will actually DO some art this week.