Tuesday, June 28

How to Organize Your Paint Colors

Some of My Reds
I’m not so bold as to tell you how you should organize any of your art things, but as the title of today’s blog suggests, I will give you my opinion and tell you how I organize my own paint colors.

My “system” for acrylic paint colors could also work for just about any other medium-- watercolor, oil, pastel, etc.
When the number of tubes outgrew one drawer, I decided to start using bins. I shopped around and found a nice inexpensive solution of stackable, rolling drawers, and they work perfectly.

It’s so simple, you’ll probably say “duh” when you read this. First I segregate the colors by primary colors-- blues, reds, yellows--and I include all the hues and shades and even some secondary colors in these categories.
Reds--In addition to Cadmium Red, Cadmium Red Light, Red Oxide, etc., the Reds also include Violet, Dioxazine Purple, and even Burnt Sienna (which is actually red-ish).

Yellows--Along with all the variations of yellow from Lemon to Naples, I include a couple of Oranges. I also keep Raw Sienna with the Yellows because that’s what it mostly is—a shade of yellow.
Blues--The blues include every shade and hue of blue I own from Indigo to Ultramarine to Cobalt to Pthalo to Cerulean.

If you’re wondering what happened to the Greens, I’ll tell you. I had so many different Greens that I gave them a category (and bin) all to themselves. The Greens include everything from Hookers to Chromium Oxide and from Green Black to Brilliant Yellow Green , Viridian, and Olive. I also decided to include all the blue-greensturquoise(s)-- in with the Greens because they look more green than blue to me.

So what’s left? Well, a lot of colors that just don’t fit into the above categories so I decided to call them Neutrals. I don’t have near as many of these as I do blues, for example. In addition to Oxide Black, this is also where I decided to put the Browns, such as Raw and Burnt Umber. This area includes Payne’s Gray, Davy’s Gray, Parchment, Warm Grey, and Unbleached Titanium to name a few.

I then made an executive decision. I have a lot of colors that are tints of the colors mentioned above. I put them altogether in a group called Pastels. (If you don’t know what a tint is, look it up.) Pastels include such colors as Pink, Venetian Rose, Pale Terracotta,  Ocean Green, Light Blue Violet, Moss Green, Aluminum, Dunes Beige, and Cast Shadow.

I realize the names of some of the colors mentioned above are merely the whim of some manufacturer’s marketing department in many cases, rather than the actual, agreed-upon name and chemical makeup of the official Color Index . This has nothing to do with how I decided to organize my paint colors.

One last thing, since I use (and have) a whole lot of White acrylic paint, it gets its very own bin, which is full.

You, of course, can organize things anyway you please, but I hope this is helpful to painters in need of a little order in their studios if not in their lives.

Happy Painting!

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