Organized Color


Let’s talk color. I guess I should be ashamed to say how much color product I have on hand. In my defense, I do use it. All the time! I am so about the color – as you have probably already figured out. I have been referred to as the Queen of Color for several years now. And I am not ashamed of that, not even one little bit. Hahaha! When you have a lot of color product – whether it be ink or yarn or sewing thread or paint – it is difficult to remember what you have and what you do not. This journal will take care of that problem.

This is how I stay organized. Just one example.

Stillman & Birn have a great line of sketchbooks. They have several levels of paper thickness and if I had understood more about that when I started, I would not have chosen their Alpha book which is 100 lb paper. I would have gone with their Zeta, Beta or Delta which are all 180 lb paper. It just depends on what you are going to use it for.

To document the colors I have in a line of product – I make a series of boxes to put the color into. In this photo you can see what I meant about the 100 lb paper not being enough. You can clearly see the page behind this one. I set up my boxes and write the names of the color just below the box the color will go into. I usually do all the names first then add the color, but that is totally up to you.

This photo shows you another reason it is important to swatch your colors. The actual paint color doesn’t always match the color shown on the tube. I will frequently pull my color book out and reference the swatches to see which colors I want to use on a project.

I had never used gouache paint before, so it was interesting to see the way the paint changes as it dries. Truly opaque and flat. But I like the colors. And by making color blocks I know what they will look like after they dry in my project. And some of these gouache colors did change as they dried.

Some paint companies sell dot sheets – pages of dots of all the colors they carry. This is a partial page of the Daniel Smith Extra-Fine Watercolors. I made a box for every one of the dots on their sample sheets. This way I can make a wise decision when I spend my money – getting the colors I will legitimately use and not waste my spending dollars. When I get the color in hand, I make a black dot in the lower right corner of the swatch. That means I won’t end up with two tubes of the same color. I could have spent that money on a color I didn’t already have. And trust me – I learned this the hard way.

My color book isn’t just for paints. These are the Ecoline Brush Pens. It is nice to see what they look like – whether in a single layer or in a double layer of color. All in one box. I could have used the blending tool and mixed that line in better but I like seeing the hard contrast between one layer of color or two.

Brusho Color Crystals are a powder that comes in little pots. You tap some of the powder into the water on your page and they bloom and make lovely backgrounds. Or you can mix it with water and watercolor with them. Either way it is nice to have a swatch page of all the brusho colors I have on hand.

Peerless Watercolors are actually little strips of paper. Seriously. They have the color concentrated on the paper itself, you touch a wet brush to it and the brush will pick up the color that you then paint with. So, not your typical paint. On these pages I did more of a wash so I could see how the color lightens up. This is more in line with how I use the peerless for myself.

Those strange little paint dabber bottles? Yep! You can swatch those babies, too. Just splat it down or swirl it around and you have your color. Many times I will google the entire line of color and make a block for all the colors – even if I don’t already have them. That way if I do decide to purchase more of the colors there are already spots for them.

I also used this book for a Dion Dior class I took on twinkling H2Os. I was able to keep some of the color schemes Dion used for the class in a quick reference form like this one.

Sometimes I just like to sit and look at the colors. It makes me happy. If I am going to an art store to purchase paint or watercolor, I like to take my book with me. The first time I went to the Dick Blick store in Savannah, I took my color book with me to make sure I didn’t buy something I already had. When I was paying for my purchases, the clerk asked if he could show my book to a couple of the other employees. And though Blick’s didn’t carry Stillman & Birn at the time, the employees were talking about what books they did carry that they could use to make color books of their own. That was pretty high praise to me and my sloppy little color journal. Hahaha! Blick’s does carry this line of books now, I am sure it had nothing to do with my color book but because Stillman & Birn are just nice journals! You can totally check them out at the link below.

Just as a side note, when I used to scrapbook and had a bajillion punches and fancy shaped scissors and rulers – I had pages for them in a different journal. I traced every ruler, I cut a few inches using each shaped scissor, and I punched one of every punch I owned. And they all went into a book for reference. It was pretty amazing. No idea where any of that stuff is now.

Dick Blick’s Stillman & Birn Journals

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17 thoughts on “Organized Color

  1. I keep saying that I’m going to do something like this, and I’ve even filled a couple of small handmade journals, but I’ve never been able to keep up with it. I suspect you’ll do a better job than I have!

    • it is hard to remember to do this. you get home with new product and you just want to play

  2. Love your organization! I really need to do this…the duplicate (um, I mean – Backup) paints on my shelf are testament to that!

  3. Well Alice, color is the fun part! This is a valuable column to someone who has limited colors as it gives one ideas about what they might consider purchasing at some time. You are very serious about what you do and it was fun reading about your process. I hope your day is colorful.

  4. Alice, thanks for sharing this idea. I’m always looking for ways to organize to make my life easier and the ‘pick up and go’ journal is excellent. Thanks

    • good! someone asked about organization ideas so I am going to try to throw one out there every now and then. hahahaha! like what do I know about organization? except it’s a never ending battle

  5. This is really nice! I started one when I first got going. I have forgotten about it. I will have to pull it out and update it! Thank You for sharing!

    • yes, I forget about mine from time to time, too. but it is really handy when I remember

  6. First thing I do with new pencils etc. Find it really hard to work without swatches now. Really need to get myself organised with a proper book though as currently it’s a case of finding the right plastic pocket with the guide sheet< mind you invariably it’s in the box of pencils/watercolours. Etc……. love seeing how you organise.

    • hahaha! yes, I have bits and pieces of papers everywhere and can never find them when I need to. the book does help with that

  7. Can I ask what pen or ink you use to make the squares in your color book? I want to make sure the square ink does not mix with the ink or paint I swatching. Thanks!

    • yes, I used a micron. any pen that is pigment and waterproof or permanent will work. sometimes I do the boxes lightly in pencil first, add color and then draw around them once dry. and sometimes I am impatient and draw the boxes with a micron, then add the color. whatever works best for you.

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