Did you know that the word ‘confidence’ is actually a synonym of ‘Bari J’?  Yep, it is.  But if you’re a Bari J follower, you’ll already know that.  And I’m sure you’ll agree that she wields her paintbrush and palette like a battle-maiden going to war.

Who’s the enemy? 


Bari J is a self-taught artist and is highly experienced in converting her hand-painted designs to digital.  She now has fifteen{!!} fabric collections under her {art smock} belt, as well as various other products in her ‘Curated Maximalism’ style, including wall paper, home decor and wall art. 

Bari serves up her imagery with lashings of colour, and does so without apology.  She doesn’t worry about whether her style matches what the latest home interiors mag is saying is ‘it’, in fact her combination and use of colour, texture and pattern questions the status quo {something that I think she is not-so-secretly pretty happy about!}. 

Needless to say, when it comes to colour, confidence oozes out of Bari’s pores {and it smells like a garden of flowers!}.  So of course I had to interview her for the Finding Colour Confidence series!  

Finding Colour Confidence with Bari J
The lovely Bari!

Interview with Bari J.

Do you have a favourite colour?

It changes constantly. Right now I’m crushing on greens and oranges… especially terracottas. I like all the colors… well, except I don’t like straight up red or royal blue. LOL! I mean the blue that Facebook uses. I do like slightly not red… Burgundy?  Tomato?

You use the term ‘Curated Maximalist’ to describe your personal aesthetic.  What does this mean, and how does it relate to your use of colour?

While I believe more is more, I believe that the MORE should be intentional and have meaning.  So, it’s not just willy nilly stuff.  It’s edited.

Finding Colour Confidence with Bari J
Image credit: Bari J

I love how you aren’t afraid to use colour in your compositions and fabric collections – in fact, you embrace it!  Do you have any exercises or tips you can share with us to help us overcome this fear?

My best tip is to practice. Your brain takes a while to adjust to new color combinations. We are used to seeing certain combinations and if we see different we wonder, “Is it supposed to be like that?”.  My suggestion is to sit with new colors for a bit before deciding how much you hate it.  That said, I’ll never adjust to red.  LOL!

Finding Colour Confidence with Bari J
Image credit: Bari J

Do you think it is important to have a technical understanding of colour, or is intuition enough?

I totally run on intuition.  But that’s not for everybody.  If you are struggling with it, I say study it a bit.  The technical stuff I’ve learned never makes much sense for how I work.  I’m going with my gut.  I always find that better.

Finding Colour Confidence with Bari J
Image credit: Bari J

How do you choose a colour palette for fabric collections or your artwork?  

I often find a photo full of colors I like and I just put it in the Pantone app and let it pick the colors out of it.  For me, it’s truly trial and error.  I play with color A LOT.  I also tend to sense upcoming trends from things I’m seeing, and I’ll often incorporate it.  Sometimes I dump it too.  But I like to try out new trends and see if it’s for me.

Finding Colour Confidence with Bari J
Image credit: Bari J

Can you explain how colour and print interact in your fabric collections?  Does the print influence the colour, or vice versa?

I start with painting a lot. I then put it in photoshop and recolor it there. It’s sometimes much better after being recolored. I love how it changes the paintings.

Thank you Bari, for the insight into your processes!  Your interview is a great stepping off point for the other topic of this week’s post… 

Finding Colour Confidence with Wife-made

Physical Vs Digital Colour Selection

Many artists, regardless of their chosen art form, started out in the physical world and learned how to use colour in this physical dimension.  If you talk to an artist about this, they might mention something about the visceral experience of holding swatches in your hands, or flicking through a pile of fabrics and contemplating colour.  They might talk about how they chose a specific colour because of the way it made them feel, and perhaps how it elicited a physical response from them. 

For some reason, when selecting a colour palette from a bunch of physical elements such as swatches or fabric it is easier to tap into your emotions.  And there’s probably a scientific explanation for it, but that goes beyond the scope of this post.  We just know that it’s true, and that’s enough for right now.   

Colouring a design digitally is a {COMPLETELY} different experience to the physical one.  While the physical experience lends itself to gaining an understanding of your psychological and emotional connection to a colour, the somewhat sterile experience of moving a mouse around a digital colour picker does not…

Alas and alack!, we live in a digital world, and the fact is, if you’re designing anything and you want make it available in digital format, you {need} to know how to either choose colours digitally, or convert your physical colour choices to digital. 

So how do we do this?

3 ways to choose a digital colour palette you’ll LOVE!

1. Convert physical to digital

Choosing digital colour palettes doesn’t have to be so hard if we begin in the physical world and convert it to digital.  In fact, as per Bari’s experience above, the final digital version might even be better than the original physical version!

There are now {lots} of online tools for choosing colours digitally.  My favourites {because they’re free!} include:

  • Playcrafts Palette Builder (discussed in this post) which selects the closest physical match in a number of fabric and thread ranges from any image you upload.
  • Color Explorer allows you to import colours from photos, images and artwork, create matching colour palettes based on a selection of colour matching algorithms and convert colour palettes to different colour systems such as Toyo and TruMatch.  It might take a bit of playing around to get used to it, but it has lots of value!

Or, if you’re not a tightwad like I am, you might be happy to pay for a subscription to apps like Pantone Studio (in-app subscription) or Cone.  Professional designers may also invest in a colour system like Pantone or Trumatch, which provide systems for converting colours in one format to another.  {But be warned, they are PRICEY!}

2. Be inspired by others

  • Colour Lovers is a community forum where creatives share digital colour palettes, patterns and designs they have created to inspire others.  The latest colour trends and articles about colour are also discussed, making it a great place to find inspiration for your next design.  You can also play around recolouring patterns that have been uploaded to the site!
  • Designspiration is a site that looks a bit like Pinterest but only shows design-focused inspiration.  Find an image you like and upload it to a digital colour picker like those mentioned above, or conduct a more targeted search by entering up to five colours to find designs in similar palettes. 

3. Go digital all the way!

Get a machine to do the dirty work for you right from the start by using a digital palette selector like Coolors.  Coolors is a ‘super fast’ digital colour palette picker which can be particularly useful if you have a jumping off point.  Simply lock in a colour you want to start with, edit the settings to reflect your preferences (eg. Monochromatic?  CMYK?  Pantone? etc) and hit your space bar to show new palette options!  If you see a colour you like, lock it in and keep hitting the space bar until you’re happy!

As you can see, digital colouring doesn’t have to be difficult!  Just like anything, it will take time to get used to, particularly if you are used to working in the physical world.  But moving into the digital stream opens up new avenues of income for artists who have previously relied only on the work they can do directly with their hands.  So it is definitely worthwhile exploring!  Go for it!

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