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Choosing a Color Combination

March 8, 2017


You may already have your own signature color palette worked out, but sometimes it’s fun to go back to basics and think about new ways of using colors in your work. For several years, I used nothing but straight-out-of-the-tube colors, no mixing on the palette, and if any mixing was done, I made it a visual mix right on the canvas. A few years later, texture entered into my work, and that became as important to me as my choice of colors. At some point I found myself painting in earth colors only. At about the same time that I was getting more into texture, I wanted my color combinations to be unexpected or unusal, and definitely non-standard.

But recently I came across a video by Bob Burridge, who is so much fun to watch, and in it he demonstrates his Goof Proof Color Wheel, which automatically selects for you a specific foolproof color formula that works for any painting. His colors are always joyous, clean, and bright. Before I continue, just feel free to go ahead and watch his explanation. I think you’ll enjoy it. Then after his video, I want to say a few words about how I sometimes like to pick my colors.

My own color choices are more instinctive and sometimes seemingly random. What excites me most is seeing colors next to each other that you might not expect to see in nature. Therefore, I’m always looking around the studio for clues to new and fun possibilities. I don’t like to throw away my blotters, squeegees, freezer paper table covers, and disposable paint palettes (usually a plastic picnic plate) until I’ve checked them over for color combinations that I might incorporate into the next painting.

Like the colors on these old mat board squeegees:

These paintings were influenced by similar color combinations:

. . . and then these crops of a freezer paper table cover:

Giving rise to more paintings:


And finaly, there are these paint palettes, which I absolutely love. These weren’t my palettes — just ones that a neighbor kid was using, and I kept them.

I see paintings in my future.


11 Comments leave one →
  1. Good Golly Miss Molly permalink
    March 8, 2017 3:16 pm

    Gee, this was a wonderful post and I loved “meeting” Bob. Lots of good information…thanks so much…Molly in San Diego…

    • March 8, 2017 5:36 pm

      Thanks, Molly. Glad you enjoyed the video. He has lots more great ones on his YouTube channel. Do stop in again. I loved hearing from you.

  2. March 8, 2017 7:03 pm

    I love what you had to say regarding saving colors. I watch Bob’s videos every week, & have enjoyed them immensely. You are as inspiring, so I thank you. I have his color wheel.

    • March 8, 2017 7:31 pm

      Oh, thank you Pat! Your encouragement has meant so much to me. I think I may have to get the color wheel. It makes the job so much easier!

  3. March 9, 2017 7:21 am

    I LOVE this post Martha, I’ve come back to it several times – thank you. ❤

    • March 9, 2017 7:33 am

      Wow, Wild Daffodil! I am so happy to know that. Feel free to save the images of color combinations for future references if you’d like.

  4. Patricia Jaggie permalink
    March 9, 2017 9:52 am

    Your post is an eye opener to color on the sidelines for your paintings. Your work is amazing, a true colorist! Thanks for sharing Martha.

  5. March 11, 2017 2:38 pm

    thank you so much! I enjoyed the video, and I especially appreciate your comments about your own process and inspirations. I love following your work and blog; I am continually marveling at how much your work and way of working/playing resonates with me, and I sure wish I lived close enough to see it (and you) in person!! Thanks again.

    • March 11, 2017 3:15 pm

      Thanks so much for stopping by and for offering your feedback, Anne. I took a look at your website and can easily see the connection. I love what you’re doing. I hope you’ll visit again.

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