Charting my oil colors

I recently added several new colors to my oil palette, and to get familiar with them and how they fit in with my other colors I did a few fun and enlightening exercises.

First I charted my colors using a tip by Dianne Mize (shown below), and once I had all of those colors out on my palette I dabbed them onto a rudimentary color wheel based on their relative hue, value, and intensity. This wheel is roughly based on a Gamblin video on navigating color space that I found useful. My chart isn’t a scientific mapping of the colors, but it definitely gives me a good idea of how they relate to each other.

oil color palette mapped to color wheel
Approximate placement of my oil colors on a color wheel

To chart my colors, I used my best impression of their value straight out of the tube and plotted them in rows, adding white to lighten the value. Then I made notes on each color’s hue, value, intensity, and temperature, along with the brand name, color name, and pigment name. I had considered doing the full color charts (Richard Schmid style) but thought that all of the time used to do them would be better spent painting. Diane’s charting tip seemed like a good compromise that would allow me to get familiar with the characteristics of my pigments in a quicker way.

For the tints, I used Utrecht White, which is a mix of titanium and zinc whites.

oil color palette charted
My palette of oil paint colors, charted out with notes to become more familiar with their characteristics

My intention is to create limited palettes from a smaller selection of colors for each painting, at least until I’m more familiar with how they work together. These two tools should be really helpful for choosing those groupings because they give me a clear visual on how the colors lean in relation to each other.

This was also an exercise in not over-engineering a solution to my problem! It was hard to fight my instinct to get very scientific about the exact qualities of each pigment by consulting all kinds of other resources. This would have taken a lot more time and sucked the fun out of it, I’m sure. And it would have removed an opportunity for me to think more critically on my own and trust my own perceptions of the colors.

I’ll use these to assign an order to my tube colors so I can lay them out on my palette in the same order every time. Not that they’ll all be out all the time, but having them in consistent homes will be valuable.

My next project is creating some color studies based on pairs of colors + white to get a feel for how they work together.