Reece Scannell on Colour

When introducing Reece Scannell, it’s probably simpler to list what he hasn’t done. His creative background is vast and his depth of knowledge on colour, combined with his photographic and fashion design backgrounds have definitely played a part in creating über inspiring fabric designs. Reece’s quality cottons have rich, silk-like tones. The beautiful colours, shades, lustre and hues transcend his classic to contemporary designs.

interview: Mindy Cook

Reece, Hanna, Matteo

And, as Reece effuses, the keys to his successful fabric designs are:
1. that every step in the process is hand-made, and
2. pushing through a myriad of colour combinations and options in the dyeing process always leads him to an exciting result.

And his enthusiasm is infectious!

We wanted to know more about how he chooses his colours and tones in the hope some of this talent would rub off!

Reece starts with colour swatches


Where do you start when pulling colours together? Do we start with our favourite ones?

Reece explains: “When it comes to colour, we never stop learning. Think of colour as our tool of communication. It impacts on and is reflective of all our senses and emotions. It is the combination of colours that defines our individuality – we all tell a different story with the colours in our stash.

It’s important to create your range – from lights to darks, shadows and highlights. Ask yourself what colours do you like and what colours do you avoid? Consider the contexts:
• what colours do I prefer to wear?
• what colours do I prefer around me?
• what colours do I prefer to use?

Rather than thinking about it, just look in the wardrobe, around your home and at your creative works. You will probably find each area has different colour themes and that’s because you’re applying different emotional processes which affect your choices.

But remember that in the general scheme of things, everything works. There are no good or bad colours. I often say it’s the colours that you don’t like that make the colours that you do like work better. So firstly, have a look in your stash and identify what colours you are strong in and what you are weak in. This is important as it will help you determine if you’ve been limiting your creativity to these selections.

I have found that my photographic background helps me define light and balance in an image. You can apply this by seeing what colours in your stash form your highlights, your mid tones and your shadows.”

Grading your colour
Graded colours

What would you consider a Golden Rule when choosing colour?

“I think we have a poor memory when it comes to colours. I think it’s good to know what you have not got. How many times do you come home with a handful of colours, open your cupboard and there they all are from previous shopping expeditions? Time to get out of your comfort zone and start filling those gaps! If you don’t have many dark or dull colours, get some. Too many blues and not enough yellows? Make it your mission to balance them. Open up your range. You will find them very useful to push and frame colours you already have. Thinking with colour is a winning ingredient when it comes to making creative progress. At the end of the day, open mindedness is the key. Remember, just because you’ve never put certain colours together in the past, it doesn’t mean they won’t work in the next project.”


Award winning Jan Frazer design
Award winning designer Ann Langley-Pod design
Jan Frazer designer – award winning piece
Work by Award winning designer, Jan Frazer

When you’re creating your fabrics, how long is the process from concept to finished product?

“It is a work in progress and everything we do is hand-made, from the textile to designing and printing. We never really know which design will work best, or how a dye will take to a colour base fabric and the effect it will render. I like to work up each design until I cannot go any further. What I find by doing this, is when I reach the point that my initial idea has worked, I go one or two steps further and I get better results! I have learnt that if I ‘lose the attitude’ I simply get better results.

The weaving process
Computer stage of design to print process
Preparing for printing
Screen printing process in action
Printing process in action
Screening process
Matteo and Hanna at the printer
Bali Studio team sorting and checking fabrics

In terms of total timeframe, I choose a theme each season and it takes about two years to get it developed up well. This is not a solo performance though! It’s a collaboration comprising Hanna in Bali who manages the hand textiles, Ai from Japan, who is currently working on adapting the colours in some of our designs to suit the Japanese market, Matteo; an Italian designer who works side-by-side with me in Sydney, and me ‘Aussie’ Reece. While communication is sometimes a challenge, it works and at the end of the day that’s what matters.”

Ai San is developing Australian flora designs with Japanese colour schemes

What is your next project?

“I am currently working up a project with two Aboriginal designers from Broome and that could lead anywhere! I have recently started a series of designs using wax as an effective texture. It’s a spin-off from an Indonesian process but it’s not batik. Plus our newest team member, Ai Imai, is massaging our Australian design themes with Japanese colour schemes – now that’s interesting! Following all this, my next big project will involve applying my photographic collection onto textile. I have worked as a photographer all over the world and have some extraordinary images I wish to present to the textile world through my fabric designs.”

And finally, what is your favourite colour combination?

“At the moment (and it will change) I love greys and browns for clothing; light greens and yellow greens for home décor, always with some blacks and neutrals, and in textiles it’s everything! I just love ALL colours!

Remember that we are all uniquely creative and we manage this through continual exploration. Never stop challenging yourself, considering all options, trying new things and believing in yourself.”

This is what a good box of fabric selection should look like

It seems to me that the essence of Reece’s message is there are no wrong combinations. What colours have you tried recently? Share your colours in the comments field below.

You can still catch Reece Scannell’s Workshops at the Craft & Quilt Fairs this year in Canberra, Brisbane and Adelaide.

For more information on Reece Scannell fabrics and designs, visit his website.

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