Quilt Designs: The Value of Value

After choosing fabrics, piecing blocks, and quilting everything together, even the most beautiful quilt designs can make for lackluster quilts. Why is that?

“El Jefe” by Grace Errea

Most of us are quick to name color choice as the culprit of our (dare I say it) boring quilts, but commonly value, not color, is the offender. To avoid this outcome in future quilts, it’s helpful to have an understanding of color including hue, saturation, and value when choosing fabric for our quilts.

Here to share her insights on these aspects of color is Grace Errea. Grace is a fiber artist, designer, and quilter who creates vibrant scenes in her art quilts. Grace’s work has been recognized for their depictions of nature and people in addition to her primary use of values and secondary use of color.

The Value of Value
by Grace Errea

It’s important to first think about what color is and break it down into its components. When discussing color, the following three components need to be referenced: hue, saturation, and value.

Hue refers to the color name—red, blue, green, and so on. Most casual analyses of color, only focus on the hue—the obvious color name. This is the first thing we learn when we learn about color—the name of the color. And so often, we don’t take the time to evaluate the two other components: saturation and value.

“La Manzana Roja” by Grace Errea

Saturation is how much gray is in the hue. A pure hue can be desaturated by adding gray. This creates toned or grayed hues. Desaturating a hue with gray does not change the value of the hue, just its pureness.

Value is the third component of color. A hue can also be desaturated by adding white or black. Black darkens the hue creating shades. Conversely, white lightens the hue and creates tints. This generates degrees of light and darkness, and is how value is created. A successful design has a good distribution of tints, shades, and intermediate values. Middle values usually provide the framework with light and dark values providing the contrast, giving the design its visual impact.

As an example, in “La Manzana Roja,” the strong light shining on the apple created the highlight (tint) on the left and the strong dramatic shadow (shade) on the right.

To see the overall effect of values (tints and shades) take a close look at the Value in Color Chart. Each column represents values 1–8 for each hue. Going down any column, you will see discernible changes in value, from light to dark. As you look across each row, you can see similar values for each of the hues. The first three rows are the tint values, the last three are the shades, and the middle two are the mid-range values.

Value in color chart

Discovering the aspects of color is an important lesson for every quilter to learn. Value and fabric choice are important components to every style of quilt whether it’s a modern quilt, traditional quilt, or an art quilt.

To learn more about what value does in art quilts, read Grace’s entire article about value in the October/November 2016 issue of Quilting Arts Magazine.

Or, better yet, learn about the elements of art that influence design directly from Grace in her online course, Understanding Value in Quilt Design.

Explore the elements of art for textiles, what value can add to your quilts, how to use high- and low-value effects to enhance your quilt designs, and how to create color harmonies. Plus, you can start her course anytime, you’ll have unlimited access to interact with Grace and other students for a year, and you can download all of the videos and handouts so you can keep them forever.

What are you waiting for? When you register for your seat in Grace’s online course, lackluster quilts will be a thing of the past.

Happy quilting!

Brenna's Signature

Leave a Reply