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How I Make My Color Choices

When given a color choice or color combinations, I know what looks good together.

I am very good with copying color when it is set up in a still-life, or a photo.

But what if the color isn't quite right in the still-life or photo? Or, what if I want to change it? That's when I struggle. I've always had a hard time making up a color.

So, I have a plan! I make color swatches from colors and color combinations that I like. I look at other artists’ work that I admire and try to match the colors and color combinations. For example: Carol Marine, Nicholas Wilton, Tara Will, Carlos San Millán.

Then on Instagram, I follow the paint company, Farrow & Ball. Here is an amusing and delightful way they explain their colors, "A softened citrus shade inspired by the lemon trees that thrive in California's temperate climate. This earthy shade is a contemporary take on true chartreuse and will bring a sweep of joy to any space".​ I love their paint colors, their explanations, and maybe because my maiden name is Farrow??? ;)

I always look forward to the Crate and Barrel catalog. They have a beautifully designed layout, wonderful colors, and color combinations.

I make color swatches on 4"x 2" paper and write down what colors I used for them. That way, I KNOW that I can make them.

Here's a painting that I'm working on. I have selected some of my color swatches, and I place them on my panel to see what could work. Because they are on 4" x 2" paper, I am able to pick them up, move them, and choose which ones I like better. It's always a work in progress!

How do you find color inspiration? I’d love to hear all about it! Leave a comment below or send me an email.

11 Comments


David R. Darrow
David R. Darrow
Apr 14, 2021

This is brilliant!

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Thank you!

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Kathy Ferguson
Kathy Ferguson
Apr 06, 2021

What great ideas! I love that idea to write the colors I used to create my swatches. I always think I will remember, but I don't!


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I keep my 2"x4" blank cards handy to remember!

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Pattie Wall
Pattie Wall
Mar 30, 2021

Ooo, I like this idea! I recently purchased a book from Ivy Newport where she has photos and shows the predominant colors beside it and a portrait photo from Splash (I think) - it's out in the studio right now. I also collect books on color. One of my favorites is "Mexicana" - colors of Mexico and the Southwest. Great for painting desert scenery. Thanks for sharing your idea!

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Thank you! I will check out those books.

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Brilliant, thank you for sharing these ideas 😄

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You're welcome. 😁

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Bonnielynn Brankey
Bonnielynn Brankey
Mar 29, 2021

I too look through catalogs, go to fabric stores also. Great color combinations there

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I know! And many catalogs have great design elements.

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