When people look at my work, the first thing they often say is, “I love your colors!” Of course, this makes me beam inside. Outside I smile, thank them and then ask “Why?” or “What about the colors do you like?”
When you look at these examples of my paintings, why do you think they like my colors? What is the first thought that crosses your mind?
As all artists know, color is personal. It is personal to the person arranging and mixing the colors, as well as those looking at them. We all have our personal preferences when it comes to color. And what makes it even more interesting is that these preferences can change.
Do You Love Your Colors in Your Paintings?
As I just mentioned, our color preferences are different and can change. They can be different from one room in your home to next. For example: I designed our downstairs bathroom with yellows, lime greens and apricots, which makes it funky and uplifting. Whereas our main bathroom carries the cool pastel colors for a calming affect.
You make color choices when you pick out what you wear. These choices can be impacted by where and when you don a particular color or set of colors. For example: when I attend a morning Chamber of Commerce breakfast, I wear more contrasting and bright colors versus when I attend a more sedate luncheon. When I attend an art opening what might I/you wear?
When you paint, do you love your colors? Do you choose a color palette before you begin a painting?
One of the reasons people love my colors relates to my color choices. 95% of the time, I choose the colors I want to use in a painting BEFORE I begin. Why do I do this? Because …
- It simplifies my color choices;
- My paintings do not turn into a mess – that indecisive look with muddy colors;
- Painting is more efficient and takes less time;
- I enjoy the painting process more;
You probably noticed that I wrote 95% versus 100%. This is because I continue to be human – sigh… 😉 – and will occasionally just dive into a painting without taking the time to think about the color scheme I want to use. Nearly every time I do this, I end up very frustrated and beating myself up for forgetting this important decision. Often my resulting painting ends up as a mess and I am not happy. This usually leads to a start over.
Many painters either do not know that it is helpful to choose your colors BEFORE you start a painting or they resist it.
They look at the same colors on their palette that they always have and just dive in. Some resist the notion because they believe that choosing a color scheme or palette is limiting. I believe the opposite. I believe that having a starting point with my colors allows me to really explore the potential of those colors. I see it as an iceberg versus a box.
Where do I get my color ideas?
- I refer to the color resources I have about color schemes, such as: complementary colors, split complementary, monochromatic, triad, etc.
- I use mail catalogs and interior design magazines for color ideas. I pick color interiors or photos, cut them out and store them in a drawer for reference;
- Sometimes I will choose a color scheme from a painting I like. The photo above shows an example of catalog images and paintings I like;
- For a commission, the collector often drives the color palette I use. Below you see that I created painting swatches for my colors;
- Always, the color scheme reflects the mood and concept I want to project.
You can see that there a many places to refer to for color scheme ideas and I love having these options. Taking a moment to consider your colors is similar to what a composer considers when she is writing music – she must decide the major or minor key, etc., that will convey her auditory vision. You do the same in creating your visual message.
Viewers often proclaim, “I love your colors,” because the colors are in harmony within each painting. To convey the beauty I want to share, I strive for color harmony. As you can see, this can be done using many different color palettes. When you peruse my portfolio of paintings, you will notice that I use quite a variety of color schemes. TIP: For every painting, I squeeze out different tube colors based on the colors I want; this is NOT typical of most painters.
Will you choose your color palette before you start your next painting? Try to stick with this choice and let me know how it works for you.