What is it about a grouping of like objects in a variety of hues that delightfully draws our eye? Do you find it almost impossible not to smile when you see something as ordinary as a stand of tin pails all clad in different colors stacked together? I know it makes me grin. Admittedly, I’m a sucker for color.
Last week I walked among the hundreds of booths set up at the Brimfield Antique & Collectibles Show, an event that each May, July, and September draws hordes of people to this small Massachusetts farm town. I was reminded of just how much of a pushover I can be when I see something that comes in dozens of colors. Many of the colorful displays vied for my attention, but it was the ones with like items, in a rainbow of hues, that always instantly drew me in.
The attraction is more than just purely chromatic. Repetition creates rhythm in a design in the same way beats repeated in music create a melody; when the shapes are the same or similar its the addition of color that hits the “high and low notes” in a design.
It was the memorable shape that won my first Harlequin teapot a place on my “must buy” list years ago. My love of repeated shapes, in as many hues as I can find, is how the other pieces found their way into my collection.
Shape can be joined by like pattern, such as this kaleidoscope of striped buoys (above), to add another layer of repetition. A variety of colors turned this flea market flatware (below) into something worth a second look. Would you have given these spoons more than a quick glance had it not been for the colors?
Working with multiple colors can be a bit more challenging than working with a limited color palette, but it can also be great fun. Incorporating multiple hues adds whimsy and joy to even the most serious design.
So go find something you can buy in at least three different colors and get started. The reward will be in seeing a spontaneous smile whenever someone feels the rhythm of your design.