In conversations with other artists I have been asked how I choose the colors I use in my paintings. Do I set out to paint a yellow flower with a green background or an orange flower with a blue background. I explained that I start out knowing I want to paint a flower but I choose the colors I’ll be using by doing a little warming up first.

This is what I mean by that statement. I get a small piece of watercolor scrap paper and I play with my colors. I puddle the pigment and blend colors on the paper to see what mixes I’ll get. As I’m doing this I can see how the colors work with each other and know what I like and don’t like. Here are some examples of  color mixing warm-ups.




They are similar to doodles except I’m watching how the colors blend & mix. I can decide which blue I need to achieve the desired greens or which red will give me the violet I’m looking for.


                                             These warm-ups allow me to play with color while I’m contemplating the start of a new painting.


I don’t worry about what I’m doing    

I focus on what the pigment is doing.


This sample is a warm-up I did before painting a tree in all 4 seasons. I needed to see the colors I felt represented the different seasons before I started the painting.



Once in a while I start a painting and somehow I lose interest in it or I’m not satisfied with where it’s going so I put it away knowing I’ll be coming back to it at another time. These warm-ups are  useful at times like this. I can attach them to the paper & I’ll know exactly what colors & brands of paints I was using on that particular painting.



Knowing what colors I’ll be using when I start a new painting, especially a full sheet of white watercolor paper (30″x22″) takes most of the fear away and allows me the freedom to work on the image and not concentrate on the individual colors I’ll need to create my masterpiece.

I’m curious, how do you warm-up to prepare to start a new painting?


Paint with Me



~ by Lorraine Rimmelin on July 16, 2012.

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