The Making of a Color Palette

Colors pulled from a photo of ordinary things, “the powder room palette.”

If you love color as much as I do, many events and impressions come together year after year to build into our color memory banks.

One day, a decade ago, you buy an old Chinese-style vase at a flea market store because it seems special in a weird way. Then another day you paint your powder room an orange/terra cotta color and put some peachy silk roses in the weird Chinese vase and think it all looks wonderful.

Today I include in my photograph an espresso picture frame that sets the darkest value in the room, and at the last minute, pull the purple soap dispenser into the photo to complete things, because there would be a boring color set without it. I snap the picture and draw out the colors to form an amazing palette we don’t realize our human eye is taking in, millions of colors, all the time. Isolating these hues into patches of pure color thrills me for the beauty I see before me. Now I’m exploring the ways to use these exciting hues in a painting or fabric art.

Color sketch for new painting planned and on the easel, 30 x 40″. Working title, “Abstract Vista”

After a lot of play in Photoshop with this color palette, I stretched them out into an abstract landscape like those I’ve seen so often in our Southwest country. This is the painting I’ve started on my easel tonight, 40 x 30”. It will be a challenge to keep the colors pure and vibrant without the benefit of a brightly lit computer screen. I think I have some ways to pull this off, playing colors against each other, tweaking them with changing up intensities of some to brighter, and darkening others.

I like the simplicity of horizontal layers of color. When life gets complicated it seems good to rest in simple things, if you can call a color palette of a dozen colors simple. Some people might scratch their heads at abstract work like this. It speaks volumes to me, calling up the high desert sunset on a warm September night down south. It’s my starting point and all that I need.

Abstract vista cropped

I grew up in a land of sunny Colorado skies, where the native American tribes were called “The Blue Sky People.” My time of living in New Mexico made an even greater impression upon me, as the atmosphere somehow magnifies the colors, attracting artists for that very reason. If my lessons in color began in museums as a college student, they became ever more real as a painter, with the influence of nature all around me. Painters before me have said this, about the importance of nature, why should I be any different? What do  you think about your world and what you see when you step outside each day?


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3 Responses to “The Making of a Color Palette”

  1. mickie626 Says:

    Love the photos and all your comments. Mickie


  2. Leslie Ann Clark Says:

    I am always looking for color palettes! love this one with the vase!


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