This week I want to share a recent experience which led to the discovery that I can stick to a color palette and make it work! Instead of my usual approach of picking colors “as I go”. Or using the entire rainbow. Or just keeping it black and white and avoid the whole color thing altogether.

It’s probably part of me being the kind of creative who just wants to make something and then go on to the next thing. Because I have too many ideas I want to do. And I’m most of the time to squirrely to put a whole lot of time and focus into one project (there are exceptions ofcourse). You won’t see me drawing 10 sketches or trying 10 compositions, and comparing several different color palettes before making the actual piece. Sometimes I do a bit more work (a little sketching and tracing mostly) but I like it best when it just goes down on paper and I go with what ends up there.

At the same time I know you can get more out of a piece colorwise with a little extra effort. For the past few months I struggled with any and all effort due to exhausting sleep issues, but as that’s improving (hooray!), I find myself willing to put in a bit more energy again. Not only for client work (I’ll always go for maximum effort there), but my personal work as well. So when I sat down to paint the “Inside the Genie’s Lamp” piece for the #nonsensedoodleclub challenge I put myself to the bonus task of only working with a few colors. Using my watercolors from Josie Lewis I went for shades of blue and yellow/orange (and no that was not accidental, I tried to put some color theory into practice). And while at it I stepped out of my working small comfort zone and went size A4. Had to create room for the little details and book titles.

Turned out to be quite the challenge! I found myself wanting to pick up different colors again and again. Old habits… Yet I managed to stick to the few chosen pans and mix a whole lot of variations with those. I remembered the lessons learned during this color mixing Skillshare class by Ana Victoria (1). Allowed an exception for the green of the grass on the posters and the cacti. Several times I even considered quiting this crazy endeavour. But as they say, growth begins at the end of your comfort zone! Onward!

And it paid off. In the end, it all came together and looked pretty damn awesome! I was (still am) really happy with the result. Ofcourse there’s always immediately 100 things I’d do differently next time but that’s learning and that’s ok. But it was enough of a discovery for me that this sticking to a few colors could work for me, that I will definitely do this again. Mix and choose as I go will probably remain my main approach to paintcolors, but it’s good to expand the options. Time to pick up this Color Mixing Companion book I got and read up a bit about it too!

Finished piece!

Everyone has their own way to pick paints, and they’re all good. But I also think it’s a good thing to mix things up (pun intended). See what happens, try something new, step outside your color comfort zone and discover the possibilities!

And how about you, are you a color planner or a color improviser? Share in the comments below!

(1) Want to try Skillshare? With this link you can try Skillshare Premium for two months! No strings attached, can cancel when you want to. There’s a ton of wonderful classes on there, I’ll post about my experiences there another time.