Name Your Own Color

It’s time for another Michelle Ward Street Team Challenge. Last month, she asked us if our color palettes changed from season to season. Living in the Sonoran desert, where the temperature is currently on “broil” I instead compared the colors and styles I used when I loved on the East Coast and then when I moved here.

This month, in Crusade #53, Michelle asked us to find colors we had blended ourselves, and give them new names. I love exploring color, so I picked up my three Daniel Smith watercolor paint sticks–New Gamboge (yellow), Quinacridone (red), and Ultramarine (blue) and renamed them to Arizona colors. Our sky is huge and bright blue, so the blue became Arizona Sky.

The yellow is a dusty, dry color that matches the color of our horizons when the dust storms move through, so it got the name of our dust storms: haboob.

The red is the color of a the juice of a saguaro fruit. The fruit is pressed out of the very seedy pod, mixed with sugar, fermented, and then used by the Tohono O’odham in a ceremony to call forth the clouds that bring rain.

But that was just renaming the colors I used. The real task was to create blended colors and name those. Below is an acacia tree –from which we get gum arabic, among other things. The tree was painted with the three color sticks above. No other colors were used. The three colors I used are primary colors, and every other color can be made from them. The greens were mixes of yellow and blue, sometimes more yellow, sometimes more blue.

The sand and underpainting of the trunk were an orange mixed from yellow and red. I then added blue to the orange and made brown, added a bit more red and made the trunk and stems.

The re-named colors are: in the top of the tree: Sun-Shot. Over to the right, the tender green is April Morning. In the center, the leaves in shadow are July Shadow.

On the right edge, the dry, tired green is Sun-Blasted. The trunk is Bent Trunk, and below the tree, there is Hot Sand.

What a great challenge! Thanks Michelle, for your unending imagination and inspiration!

–Quinn McDonald’s book, Raw Art Journaling, is newly released by North Light Books.

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25 responses to “Name Your Own Color

  1. Oh, my! Haboob yellow! I love these names. Our friends in Phoenix had the tree in the front yard just blown over by a haboob!

    I love that page. Thank you for sharing!

  2. I haven’t seen those sticks here in Canada yet. Great results! The names fit very well. Love your sketch!

  3. Beautiful journal page! And of course, you are right – we don’t need a lot of different coulours as long as we may mix the ones we’ve got! Really nice work – I like it a lot!

  4. What a beautiful journal page, love your tree – wow how awesome. And the haboob has a fun name and pretty colour – guess it isn’t a fun thing though. Oh my, sand storms!

    Thanks for sharing with the crusaders! :-) Congrats on the new book too, it looks awesome!

    • Thanks iHanna–you’ll hear from me asking about a giveaway on your blog. Dust storms are very interesting, but can be damaging–your car needs an air filter and your pool needs to be pumped.

  5. Wow, trying to resist the impulse to go order those watercolor sticks RIGHT NOW. You’ve inspired me to work harder on color mixing with my little water color pan. I always lament the limited pallet I have and go back to my cheap acrylics that come in every color under the sun. I will be more patient and let water color mixing work it’s magic. Love your tree.

    • I found great joy in loading the brush with two colors and seeing what happened–lots of fun. The water color sticks are expensive, but then I remember they are pure watercolor!

  6. Gorgeous tree – love the range of colours you have used; and just from three primary colours. We all know that it can be done but it’s great to see it actually being done!

  7. Love your names, and that tree is a beauty. But oh my goodness, I have never seen those watercolour paint sticks before. Love and longing at first sight!

    • Ahhh, Cath, they are real tempters. they are pure watercolor in stick form. You can sharpen them and draw with them. Save the shavings in a palette, sprtiz them with water and get more watercolor. I like wetting a brush and loating it with the stick, which gives full, rich results! From Daniel Smith, I think in about 20 colors. Not cheap, but very value-loaded. It’s a lot of watercolor for the price.

  8. Love the way you did the challenge, the names are so unique and you did them all from the three primary colors.

  9. I love that your color names reflect your desert surroundings. Even though dusty yellow isn’t a favorite color, I do think it has to be on the list of my favorite color names — haboob yellow. What could be more perfect than that!

  10. Oh I love those color sticks, and your names are great! I could use some “Ice Cube Blue” right now-it is HOT!

  11. Your color creations are wonderful, Quinn, as is your beautiful acacia tree! Great names for your new colors-I especially love “April Morning”-very nice!

    • In April, the acacia tree really looks lovely. We get some rain, and the tree looks great. In July and August, particularly with our dust storms, everything looks beat. It’s a big difference.

  12. Quinn – love that you renamed the starting colors! Love that you illustrate how to get those wonderful murky greens and blues just from those three hues. Fantastic page and clever color names. I’m feeling that Hot Sand Tan about now….NJ is alot like AZ today. 97* right now, heat index of 108*. I could use a little Ice Cube Blue to immerse in, please? Thanks for sharing your color exercise with the team!

    • Yeah, Ice Cube Blue sounds just like what we need! That heat index sounds really awful in your humidity. In July and August it’s scorching here, and a lot of trees drop their leaves. Acacia trees darken like our monsoon clouds, and I just had to capture that color!

  13. What fun! I am going to work on this. I love making up names for things and sometimes even making up new words that aren’t part of the universe yet.
    More later…..
    JoHanna

  14. I love sun-shot and bent-trunk!
    Awesome naming!

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