Keeping Track of Colors

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.

paintestOne 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.

TestsheetI 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.



8 thoughts on “Keeping Track of Colors

  1. Hi Quinn, just took Pam Carriker’s Neocolor II class at Art Unraveled. She uses Grey Palette paper instead of wax paper and her color wheel stencils would be great in your reference book. What a great idea to keep it all in your IPhone- I am always checking out art stores and not remembering what I have and what I need. Thx

  2. I also have charts in different journals with different sized paper and I love your idea to take photos of the pages and keep them on your phone. That’s brilliant. Thank you!

  3. Thanks, Quinn. This will keep me busy and out of the art supply store as well as offline. – where I spend far too much time and money buying all the same “pretty colors”. After that I will apply this to my cosmetics stash.

  4. I love the Neocolors. I always travel with them and my water brush. I love the work I do with them and often want to translate the work to acrylics but I never can.They have such a unique look and way of behaving. Someday I am going to make an entire painting with them. I will have to try the wax paper idea as well.

    • Neocolors have been languishing in my stock for years. Now I have been working with them, and the rich, wonderful colors are incredibly enjoyable. In fact, I think your blog brought me back to using them. Thank you!

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