Studio Musings

Monday, September 17, 2012

Me, Myself and I - Monochromatic Color Combinations

Continuing in my design series, today I'm thinking about monochromatic color combinations.  Designing around a single color.  The single color works as a strong Unifying element, but since we're only using one color, Contrast has to come from somewhere else. 

Ocean Currents, freeform peyote bracelet with color palette
Ocean Currents, freeform peyote bracelet - blue, blue and more blue
Truth is, I don't work with monochromatic designs every often.   When I do, I tend to make liberal use of Value such as my in  Ocean Currents series. 

Here, I shade from bright white to deep blues. 

I'm also using Undertones to provide additional contrast - with both warm and cool blues. But I've stuck with relatively pure, intense versions of each hue. 

Leopard Jasper, freeform peyote choker with color paletteIn my Leopard Jasper choker, I shade from a light cream, through dark chocolate, ending on the other end of the value scale at black.

Brown is more often considered a neutral, rather than a 'color' in and of its own right.  That said, there's no reason why you can't use it as the focus of a monochromatic composition. 

You just have to find interesting enough browns.  I combined warm, rich browns with more neutral antique bronze beads (which worked well with the antique bronze button). 

Lariat by Malin de Konig
Adding Neutrals for Contrast

Malin de Konig graciously allowed me to use the picture at left of her lariat.  

In this clean, elegant design, Malin combines a single shade of red with a warm, rich neutral brown and antique brass. I love how it allows the red to sing and take center stage. 

Check out Malin's blog post to see additional pictures.

Additional Resources
Looking for other samples of monochromatic compositions, I put together a Pinterest board, aptly named Monochromatic Jewelry Designs, using a number of the pieces from Sally Russick's One Crayon Color challenge from earlier this year. 


  1. I love those monochromatic combinations. They are eye catching. I always think of them as "classic" because how could you possibly go wrong?

  2. I really like how monochromatics look but I cannot seem to make them happen except in browns. Your blues make me want to try a little harder.

  3. Great choker! These are my favorite colors to work with-the earthtones. A great post too.

  4. I love your brown choker. I still drool every time I see it!

    I have a hard time with monochromatic color schemes in beadwork -- not enough colors of seed beads to pull it off. I should do something about that! I do have fun with it in painting, though.

  5. Great post Karen! It's very nice to follow your philosophizing on the subject. And thank you so much for including me. :-)