Our friend the color chart!

Creating a color chart is an easy way to become a better artist.

If you could do one thing that would make you a better artist, would you do it? Of course you would! It’s too late to study under Monet, and most of us can’t afford to practice en plein air painting in Tuscany. But we can all do one simple thing that will improve our painting ability…

Learn about color.

You don’t have to read a bunch of books, or learn about the chemistry of pigments and binders. Just get to know your colors. Whether you use only the three primary colors, or have a “limited palette” of thirty tubes of paint, make a color chart.  It’s like taking your colors on a test drive to see what they can do.

Yes, making a color chart is incredibly boring. Yes, making a color chart is a tedious, repetitive task. Yes, it is more fun to paint an actual picture. But for an artist, making a color chart is like a musician practicing scales. Practicing scales is boring, repetitive, and not much fun. But all of the great musicians do it.

There’s an added benefit to doing this boring task: learning how the colors mix will save you money. Yes, you read that right. Save money! No need to buy all those convenience colors. You can mix them yourself!

It’s easy to make your own color chart. Click here for step-by-step instructions.

This is my palette (notice that several colors are enhanced by cat hair), the color swatches, and the color chart that I created by mixing my palette.

1. My palette

2. Color swatches

3. Color chart

I also created a chart for the limited palette of six colors that I sometimes use when travelling, then added a Payne’s Gray tag-along.

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