A Recipe of Colors

Dark PumpkinPainting is an art form I haven’t mastered yet. Thanks to having some time free to explore my more artistic endeavors, I’ve decided to dabble in watercolors. Watercolor crayons, that is. One of the things that have always intrigued me about painting and painters is how they blend and mix primary colors with one another to make all those other colors. I’ve always wondered how painters mix their colors to get the precise colors that dazzle their paintings. Therefore, it's time for an experiment.

I whipped out my planner and pulled out a few blank index cards. Need something to paint on, now don’t I? I prefer grid-ruled index cards to make "straight" lines but any old card will do. Next, I grabbed my watercolor crayons and a paintbrush. I was going to learn how to be a mastah color mixer. Now, what to color? In honor of October and all things Halloween, I decide a nice pumpkin orange will do nicely.

Blank CardFirst, I write Color Recipe centered at top of the card. If the experiment works, I'll use this to seperate these cards from the rest of my planner cards. This, combined with the next line helps to keep track of the colors I mix. Next, I draw a line on the next line down for the name. Here, I write Dark Pumpkin on it. Then I draw a box to the left of the card title to contain my blob of color. Next I write Mix next to the box and leave a few lines to write/color in the colors to blend. And finally four lines up from the bottom, I write Notes and leave space to write in any hints or use suggestions.

Now to become the genius mixer. Looking at my 8-crayon watercolor set, I pull out "Rot-red-rouge" and "gelb-yellow-jaune". Just having watercolor crayons with fancy european names on them makes me feel more paintery. I scribble a bit of red into the box and grab my water-wetted paint brush. The wet brush swishes the yellow pigment around and washes it into a nice paint spot. I repeat the process with the red and swish it into the yellow. Now I have a slight orangish blob. Which I guess, could represent a pumpkiny orange. Woot, I have color. I then scribble a bit of yellow under the "mix" tag and a bit of the red there as well. And I label the colors, just so I remember what they were. Under the notes area, I write a generic description, "makes a great color to use for a sunset or a pumpkin’s shadowing."

While I opted to experiment with watercolor crayons, I’m sure the more painterly readers out there can find all sorts of paints. Acrylic, real watercolor, eggs, ramen. I guess anything goes, as long as the colors can mix together to make more colors. To store your new recipes, all you need to do is drop them into a Index Card file box. That way, the next time the muse wants you to paint that deep dark purple, you can pull the corresponding card from the box. Now, if you excuse me... I’ve got a lot of experimentation and colors to create.

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Great idea! As a painter myself this would be very handy. Don't forget if you're using watercolour that you're using the colour of the paper you are painting on as part of the final shade (so dark pumpkin will look lighter on some very white paper as opposed to an index card). But you could always buy a small pad of watercolour paper to make index cards from if you wanted totally accurate colour recipes for watercolours.

i didn't know that


thanks for the hint. you'd think that i'd recognize that the paper color would affect the inks but i totally forgot about that. your suggestion makes me want to go and cut up some paper bags to see their results.