Artist & illustrator Antonia Woodgate, AKA @theglassisartful, studied fine art at college and is a self-confessed colour addict. Her IG feed is jam-packed with beautiful pieces of art she has done herself, including a colourful monogram series. Here, she tells The Colour File’s Martha Roberts what colour means in her life…
Can you describe your first colour memory?
The turquoise window frames on a cottage we used to stay in as children, on Clough Williams-Ellis’s (creator of Portmeirion) Brondanw estate in North Wales. All the windows and railings on the estate were this colour. The cottage belonged to my father’s best friend. It was inaccessible by road, and there was no motorway to Wales back then. So, after a very long drive, we used to carry our bags up the hill, rewarded by this magical stone cottage, with turquoise window frames, Welsh blankets from nearby Brynkir Woollen Mill and cows wandering past the windows. That turquoise taught me from an early age that there are no rules.
Do you have a favourite colour and has this changed over the years?
I love purple, magenta and teal. I also love lime green, golden yellow and orange. But really, it depends on the context (clothes, food, interiors, art, buildings or the view out of your window…?) and on the neighbouring colours. In art, all colours can be good. What makes them amazing is the combination. Just look at ‘Destiny’ in Matisse’s fabulous ‘Jazz’. Who would have thought that a pale pink, black and magenta could offset green, blue and yellow quite like that? But there’s another important detail in that piece: imagine it without the white figure. It just wouldn’t work, would it?
What is your favourite colourful object/objects and why?
The insides of our kitchen cupboards. Everyone thinks our kitchen is just white. But when you open the cupboards, a rainbow is revealed…
Portmeirion ‘Totem’ china – I have collected this 1960s range for years, and we use it all the time. I have resisted many suggestions from other
that we should have a set of plain white china in the house. I think
everyone else should have a set of deep cobalt blue china in the house.
So many books. I just love browsing. Here are just a few, on a yellow Ikea
rug @marimekkodesignhouse @sannaannukka @heredesign
Bone china cups from The Art Rooms @theartrooms
From one of my all time favourite shops, Ceramica Blue in Notting Hill
Bed linen from Margo Selby @margoselbystudio
Orla Kiely oven glove @orlakiely
Fruit basket @habitatuk
Teal sofa with Picasso cushion @adventuresinfurniture @julespansu
Sophie Smallhorn screenprints @sophiesmallhorn
Sophie is a local artist and I love the way her exuberant colours bounce
off the paper.
Miss Print sugar bowl @missprint_ltd
Lovely surface pattern in gorgeous colours.
How does colour make you feel?
Interesting use of colour makes me feel really excited. I can spend hours browsing through Pinterest and marveling at the stunning subtleties people come up with to create such beautiful combinations. Beautiful, but effective too, in conveying moods and feelings. Dick Bruna’s book cover designs do this (he did a lot of book illustration before he createD Miffy). One of my favourite designers, Sanna Annukka, creates magical scenes in The Fir Tree with dark blues and purples with chartreuse yellow, or turquoise and magenta on a black background. Then on the next page it’ll be all light and bright, gold, red, lime with lots of white to convey a lift in the mood. Maria Holmer Dahlgren often describes places using a similar palette with very clever use of the white background to make her designs sparkle and fill you with inspiration.
Do you have a colour you could happily do without?
I could probably do without browns and rusty reds, although they look amazing on trees in the autumn. Due to school uniform memories I could also do without bottle green.
What does colour mean to you in your day-to-day life?
I just love to be surrounded by it. I love working with it. Getting colour right is a hard thing to do, but I love the challenge.
Do you think there are rules about colour? Or are rules made to be broken?
Red and pink is an amazing combination. Marimekko have proved that many times. There are definitely no rules. Also, combinations can change hugely depending on the quantities of each colour used. You might only need to balance a small dab of pale pink with lime green to make it sing, and it is this experimentation that is really exciting. Rules would just limit the possibilities.
Do you have a colour story or anecdote?
As children, my sisters and I believed that adults didn’t understand colour. I remember my horror when a friend’s father described my new pink pen as red. Whenever anyone described a colour inaccurately, my sisters and I would mutter ‘adult’, under our breath. We considered it an insult of the highest order.
If you could give people advice about using colour, what would it be?
Ban magnolia walls! Magnolia paint saps the light away and casts a dull glow over everything. Generally I prefer white as a backdrop, or an inky blue or teal. Be bold with colour. I don’t necessarily mean that colours have to bright, but surround yourself with colours that you love and enjoy them!
If a colour was named in your honour, what colour would it be and what
would it be called?
I’m really struggling with this one. I can’t decide between magenta, purple and all kinds of blues and greens!