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A Color Diary – Kristen’s Year in Color

You really never know when inspiration is going to strike. For Kristen, reading a book about codes launched an entire series of work, both in her professional life and personal life. She designed the award-winning Cryptology Collection, creating patterns with coded messages. She also began working with codes in her needle punch artwork, especially during her residency at Snow Farm Craft. In January 2022, she combined her enthusiasm for codes with her love of color in a color diary where she tracked her feelings each day and represented them in color.

Here’s how it worked.

First, Kristen mapped out a series of feelings and emotions. Tired, angry, happy, annoyed, sick, anxious, optimistic, nervous but excited, just ok, even feelings of warm and cold. Next, she assigned each of those feelings a color in her watercolor kit. January started out with nine feelings/colors, but she added eleven more as the year went along.

Every morning of 2022, Kristen would wake up and ask herself, “What is my mood right now? How do I feel in this minute?” It forced her to stop and spend a moment truly aware of her feelings. She tried not to overthink it or judge herself. If she was somber, she was somber. The exercise was more to simply acknowledge it and document it.

Once the feeling was clear, it was painted in the day in its corresponding color, or colors. If it wasn’t such an obvious feeling, such as anxious but productive, Kristen would mix colors. When she was away from home, she usually brought her paints with her. If she was packing light, she made a note each morning and updated her calendar when she got home.

Did she see any pattern to her feelings?

“I don’t see any definite patterns, but it’s interesting to look through the year and compare each month,” Kristen reflected. June stands out as being very monochromatic, while the year as a whole lights up and has more variety near the end of the year. Would there be a pattern if she did it again for a second year? Possibly, but Kristen enjoyed this as a one-year exercise. The project feels like “a snippet in time” or a time capsule of 2022.  

So, what did she learn from her color diary?

“I learned that I always seem so tired,” Kristen joked. In all seriousness, though, the exercise did make Kristen more aware of the pressure she puts on herself. Like many entrepreneurs, it’s easy to feel like you have to be productive all the time and say yes to everything. Kristen realized she gets excited about possibilities and wants to do everything, but then is left feeling overextended and exhausted. “Saying no to certain things doesn’t mean saying no forever.” Doing this color diary, she sees the need to have space in her life so there is room for unexpected opportunities to show up.

Where does she go from here?

Looking back on the year, documenting 2022 in a way that didn’t add stress to her day was a grounding. Additionally, it is already feeding into other art projects, like her needle punch. She has worked with code in other needle punch projects and is looking forward to creating new pieces based on her color diary.    

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Kristin Crane

Kristin Crane has designed jacquard designs for the home furnishing and residential jobber market for many years, with mills in the US and in China. Today, she writes about pattern and design trends for Design Pool from her home in Providence, Rhode Island. When not writing about fabric, she can be found weaving in her home studio or hiking along the Rhode Island coast.


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