Choosing a Color Combination

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.

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