Cover by Joleen Flasher

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March 2007

March 2007: Arabian Nights



  • Healthy Green Artists:
    Mixing it Up, Paying it Forward
  • EMG News:
    News for March
  • Behind the Art:
    Building Your Palette
  • Myths and Symbols:
    Arabian Nights
  • Wombat Droppings:
    Nothing to see here...


  • Photoshoots for Fun and Profit


  • Fiction: Scherazade
  • Fiction: Lamp-Fever
  • Fiction: Genie's Day Off


  • Movie: Blood and Chocolate
  • Book: Monster Blood Tattoo: Foundling
  • Book: Blood and Chocolate
  • Book: Time of the Faeries

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  • Building Your Palette
    Behind the Art
    by Annie Rodrigue

    I'm sure a lot of you had this problem before: You go to an art store to buy some paint tubes, but you just don't know what color to choose. Too many colors to choose from, no enough money to and/or space to buy them all. But we don't exactly need to buy everything. Better yet, you can make this easier for you by building your own color palette!

    Building a Color Palette That Will Fit Your Needs

    A personalized color palette is just as important to an artist as any of his other tools, in my opinion. As artists but also as people, we have favorite colors, favorite shades, favorite color schemes, and favorite subjects. There are only five colors that should always be available in your palette (black, white, blue, red, and yellow), but the rest is really up to your taste. Why would you impose on yourself colors that you do not like in the first place? If you do, you will no use them anyway. What a waste of money this could turn out to be! So the palette that will fit your needs will be one in which you want to use every single color. No more, no less.

    Of course, this does mean you will need to test some colors. More often than not, the color we see on the tube isn't exactly the color of the paint in the tube. If you are allowed, open the tube to take a look at the paint. (Be warned that not all art stores will allow this!) Also keep in mind that watercolor can be thinned out with water and dries lighter. So the color out of the tubes doesn't give you all the shades it could actually do on paper. Acrylic usually dries a bit darker. Oil is probably the exception as it usually stays the same shade after drying.

    I recommend buying just a few colors at a time. Try these new colors in a painting to see if you like them or not and see if you want to include them in your personal color palette. Remember that there is no rule of thumb when picking colors. You like blues better so you have more blue paint then any other color? That's okay! Chances are that if you have more blue paint, it's because you usually make more paintings with blue color schemes. You will realize that your palette really represents you as an artist too! Don't be scared to go with your gut feelings.

    Keep your palette to a limited number of colors. My palette can hold only 22 colors and I stick to this number. Going over 25 might be a little too much to handle, as we can, after all, mix colors to get other colors. A large amount of color tubes might become overwhelming.

    Organizing Your Palette

    I don't know if there are official rules written somewhere on how to organize your palette, but these are the ones that I follow when I work with one. I've always felt that keeping everything tight on the worktable helped being more effective and made sure that all the time I would spend on art, would be on creating it, not getting everything set up.

    So this is my watercolor palette. Each color is in these tightly sealed containers. You can easily find empty containers like these at the art store. They are wonderful for watercolor as they keep the paint wet a lot longer. If they run dry, simply add one or two drops of water, close the container and they will become wet again after a while. This particular palette came with the containers, but they don't exactly hold there on their own. I used some blue gum to hold them in place.

    I do follow a certain order when putting my colors in the containers. From the bottom right going left, we have the reds, oranges, yellows, and green. On the left side, we have more greens and the blues. From top left to right, we now have purple, browns, greys, ending with black and white. Yes, just like a rainbow because it is easy to remember. Also, if I was to work a monochromatic or analogous scheme, all the required colors would be one next to the other.

    I took the time to label the containers with the color code on the tube. The last thing I want is to run out of a color and not know which tube it was or put the wrong color in the container.

    Blending Colors in Your Palette

    I also like to keep order when I blend my colors. Most palettes have two or three sections where you can blend colors. I usually go like this: one section for warm colors (red, orange, skin tone, and yellow), another for cold colors (blue, purple, blue-green) and a last section for earth tones (brown, red-brown, and green). This will prevent the colors to go all dark or grey. Water runs around on the palette when you work with watercolor so they can easily mix when we don't really want to. Keeping the analogous colors together will prevent this.


    Always remember that a palette is custom fit to every artist. What works for you won't necessarily work for others. A nice way to test colors that you might want to buy is to ask others around you to show you the color if they have it and recommend it!

    Take the time to clean your palette when you are done with your painting. Watercolor will become flaky when it stays too long on the palette. As for acrylic and oil, they will completely dry and be very hard to clean if we wait too long.

    What's Next?

    Next month we will cover vector art. More specifically, vector art done in Flash. Stay tuned!


    Annie Rodrigue

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