It’s frustrating when you go to an art supply store and buy colored pencils, paints, or pastels and buy the same colors over again–several times. And if you are like me, you keep buying the same three colors in quantity.
One smart solution is to keep the names or color swatches in your journal. Very useful. Well, except that you have to remember in which journal you put which product. And flipping through journals is fun, but you come to your senses an hour later and still haven’t found the one with the Twinkling H2Os. But browsing your journals is always interesting.
Here’s an easy, practical solution: I keep all my color swatch samples in a small three-ring binder–a 5″ x 7″ size. To keep the paper tests similar and comparable, I put the samples on Strathmore Ready-Cuts, which protects me from cutting crooked pieces of watercolor paper.
There is a section for watercolor, one for acrylics, another for my different watercolor pencils, and a section for Caran D’Ache Neocolor II, and Tombow watercolor pens. For each color swatch I add the color number or name or any other specific identification.
Of course, while I had all this in one easy place, I would regularly forget to take it with me to check if I have the color. Then I made it super easy. I simply photographed each page on my iPhone and stored them in one “album” on my phone. The phone is always with me. I flip through the album, and check the color number or name. If I have it, I don’t re-buy it. Not even tempted.
I also do small experiments on the pages to see what technique works best for each color. I’m enamored with Caran D’Ache Neocolor IIs right now. Anything that travels easily and can look like watercolor is a friend of mine.
For the Neocolors, I’ve discovered that rubbing the color on a piece of wax-, deli- or freezer paper and wetting it gives me the most intense color with smooth, easy application. And no mess, even on an airplane.
And the colors come in a flat metal box, so it is super easy to pack, even in your carry-on. And that makes waiting in the TSA line just a bit easier.
I love journaling, and while I love complicated discovery work, I also love easy art.
—Quinn McDonald keeps journals and travels. A lot.