Playing with rainbows..."What draws us...?"

Since my last blog post, color has consumed my thoughts or rested in the back of my mind constantly, as the newest additions had arrived. My palettes would need to make room for a couple missing earthy yellows, an irristable-at-first-sight red + a handful of earth pigments that fulfilled a secret dream. Fitting these new colors into the fold was fairly easy with the knowledge from my last go-round with the palettes.

Felt, however, playing with rainbows was in order. Who else has an affinity for vintage paint by number art? After looking up the hastag paint by number(s), a selection of images were accumulated. Even found a few photographs that caught my eye, which surprisingly matched palettes that I was already using. Eash image was broken down into its most basic colors + a match was found among my collection. Studying other artists' color palettes was quite educational, though the main thing learned through this process was that I truly loved my palettes. Many pages of my sketchbook were filled with tiny squares forming rainbows + color name initials + palette or PBN descriptions. Flipped back + forth through them again + again. Made mental notes of what color combinations drew me closer, which ones left lasting impressions or felt familiar. Then compared those to my own paintings. Looked at both older works + newer pieces. Recognized the colors used. Noted how they were mixed + which colors were often used side-by-side. Thought back to the feeling I had when creating with these palettes. Were they from the original set up? Or were colors being pulled from each palette? Was it frsutrating searching for the perfect...? Did it elicit sorrow or joy or...?

Captivating things, colors are.

We all have access to the same colors + many variations of those colors from different manufacturers. Our palettes hold commonalities, yet they are each unique unto the artist that uses them. With such a personal thing as art, it stands to reason that the components, like palettes, would be personal, too.

What draws us to a particular color? Why do we prefer this color instead of that color?  How do we use each color? What is put into our color choices, photo references, some color theory, a thought, a memory, or perhaps something from our subconscious?

Observing such things taught me how I use this collection of colors + where to place them within my palettes. Many handmade watercolor manufacturers create palettes with lovely names based on themes, which to me is charming. When setting up my new palette color combinations, naming them came easy. It felt kismet, in fact. Here are the results from playing with rainbows.

four new palettes

Comprised of many manufacturers, Ruby Mountain Paint Co. + Pruche + Pfeiffer Art Supply + Letter Sparrow + Greenleaf & Blueberry, each palette will have its own tin eventually. All suit the style of paintings that I create, honoring types of scenery + moods. Though we are not hunters, our family has an appreciation for archery from our ancestors + inheriting my father's old wooden bow + arrow set. The names seemed fitting based on their meaning + each palette's purpose.

palette label with color sample + name initials

Not only does my sketchbook hold a record of each palette created, but also the labels have a color sample + name initial on the reverse. These are placed in a tiny bag for safe keeping.

two palettes: G+B with Hushwings

Greenleaf & Blueberry's minerals fuchsite, malachite and turquoise are so precious that mixing them with other colors, to me, would lessen their appeal. Instead, opting to leave these in their own palette allows them to be used with any color combination as a special addition. Another palette that stands on its own is the Colonial Palette from Hushwing Watercolors. It is literally a dream come true, involving romantisized notions toward cave painters + the desire to mull my own local earth pigments, yet knowing my body's limitations. These colors work beautifully on their own + mix well with others.

sketchbook entry for painting rainbows


While I may not always understand what draws me to a particular color, it is comforting to know that colors are a part of my life. Working with colors can reveal a bit of my story. Playing with rainbows can shine a bit of light on my art. 


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