26 March 2012

what to do with old color charts . . .

In 2005, a friend encouraged me to come to some informal watercolor classes where I tried it for the first time. The instructor had us make color charts to see what our 12 paints could do. Since then, I have loved making more color charts when trying out new colors -- it's oddly very relaxing to me.

This led to quite a collection of color charts stacked on a shelf, not being used. So one day I grabbed a stapler and put my favorite charts on my bulletin board as "wallpaper". I often tack things I'm working on over them, but the rest of the time I just enjoy looking at the colors.

Many of the paints in these charts I no longer own. I have tried so many colors as I read books and blog posts by one artist or another! But in the last few months I have become more settled in what colors work for me personally, reducing the paints that I own to those in the upper right corner. Even on this chart, there are some that I seldom ever use and will probably not replace, cadmiums among them. Not for any environmental or safety concerns --- I simply don't like them much.

The large chart in the upper left is all the paints that came with my largest Schmincke tin. I keep the tin for my "studio" palette, holding those paints in the upper right chart. But many of the Schmincke paints have long since been used up or given away.

There is also a magazine article pinned up below the tree painting -- an old article by Cathy "Kate" Johnson on mixing greens. She is one of the best at that!

And the painting of a tree? It's a journal page I did years ago following a demo in a book. At the top of the page is my favorite quote by J. R. R. Tolkien. The tree reminds me of one of his short stories, "Leaf by Niggle", which I can relate to -- often getting so bogged down in one tiny detail that I miss the big picture.

If this blog entry has held your interest this long, maybe you are curious as to what the quote is? If so, here it is:

"So it may be said that the chief purpose of life, for any one of us, is to increase according to our capacity our knowledge of God, by all the means we have, and to be moved by it to praise and thanks . . ."                                                   -- J. R. R. Tolkien


  1. Very clever use of old color charts ... bright and cheerful as well!

  2. They are nice to look at when I paint at this worktable, while waiting for washes to dry. (I tend to be impatient!)

  3. These are lovely. Good place to put them. I have never done one. I've never had the patience for doing them. But they probably do help with colors.

  4. Love the charts Vicky but really love the last quote. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Cris, they are a great help in learning what pigments make what colors! But I find that, after taking time to make one, I don't actually use them much when I'm trying to get a certain color. Spending time making the chart helps me memorize what I need to use.

    Toni, Tolkien was a great man of faith who left lots of great quotes of wisdom! I found this in a library book of his letters to various people.


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