Colors of the Year: Making Pink & Blue Work for You

As I mentioned in my recent post following Pantone’s announcement of their co-Colors of the Year (COTY), Pink Quartz and Serenity, my initial reaction was, well, raised eyebrows (she understated.) And now, several days later, do I feel any differently? Hmm. No, not really. I’m skeptical. As much as I want to embrace every hue in the color world equally, I feel like I’ll have to work really hard to think of ways to use what looks to me like colors that belong in a nursery. But I’m trying to keep an open mind— let’s see how we can make these colors work!

Pantone's 2016 COTY

Pantone’s 2016 Colors of the Year, shown here with the CMYK values and hex code that come with every Colormusing palette. (Click the colors to see what Pantone has to say about them.)

Even on Pantone’s site, they’re consistently showing these 2 colors blended together, creating a kind of mauve-y lavender shade— pretty, but still very Easter egg-pastel, to my eye (not my favorite color range). However, I’d like to do my own blending to see what happens; here’s what I’ve done so far.

 Step 1: Blend the 2 colors.

2016COTYblend

Here, I’ve started with the 2 COTY (far left/right), each on a separate layer, changed the opacity to 50%, to blend them in 2 ways: pink over blue, and blue over pink. (And apologies for my blended color names— couldn’t help myself!) Now I have something that’s starting to look like a palette!


Tip: You’d think (or at least I did) that the resulting blend of the 2 colors would be the same, regardless of the color layer order, but no! This surprised me, honestly. And looking at the blends more closely, the one with pink on top is more pink, and the one with blue on top is more blue. (Guess that could have been predictable?) It pays to experiment!


One thing I do like about these 2 COTY is that the pink is on the warmer side, while the blue is cooler. To my mind, this expands the possibilities of combining the colors— if your palette contains a temperature range, if you will, it’s generally going to be more visually interesting, not to mention versatile.

Step 2: Add a “grounding” hue.

dl16coty1all

Just by adding the darker shade of blue (far right), this palette feels like it suddenly snapped into focus! Imagine if this palette was used in, say, a bathroom: the softer colors in fixtures and paint, with deep blue towels, maybe matte silver faucets, pink quartz washcloths, lavender soap…

Step 3: Try alternate “grounding” colors.

dl16coty2all

Here, I’ve substituted a soft charcoal grey for the tonal dark blue. This not only helps to neutralize the feminine softness of the other colors, but it also provides a useful basis for adding new textures and finishes— think pewter metallic, for example.

dl16coty3all

And in this version, I went with a berry color that is essentially a deeply saturated combination of pink and blue. When you look at all 3 palettes, you can see how just changing the last color completely alters the feel of each palette.

 

Of course, for most things you’ll use a palette for, you won’t be using the colors in equal quantities— and changing the proportions of the colors can give you dramatically varying results.

Step 4: Change color proportions.

dl16coty1a

Going back to the palette with dark blue, I’ve switched the positions of the 2 colors on the right, then reduced the dark blue to a much smaller proportion; the Serenity color (far right) takes on a correspondingly larger part of the palette. Feels different, right? The dark blue becomes like an accessory; if you were wearing an outfit with all the soft colors of this palette, imagine your shoes, bag, scarf, or gloves in the darker blue.

 

 


Do try this at home: I deliberately did these palette experiments with the Colors of the Year; because I’m not crazy about them, I thought of this exercise as if I was moving into a new house, and had to make the best of the existing colors!

So do play around with this idea of blending 2 colors in various ways to create an entire palette— I’m betting you’ll be surprised by the results of your own experiments!


Want to see what I’m already doing with these colors (and variations thereof)? Check out this special 2016 COTY collection at Colormusing!

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