You have been doing watercolor swatches wrong

Doing watercolor swatches is very calming and soothing to the eyes and mind. We all have tried painting watercolor swatches, right? Have you ever found a very useful way to use the swatch card? If you haven't, then let me help you a little, my friend.

Watercolor swatches and paintings
Watercolor swatches and paintings

Why create watercolor swatches?


1) To see how the color looks when it is dried.

2) Paints are expensive. By swatching them, you can decide which paint to use in your painting.

3) It gives a visual reference about its opacity and its granulation.

4) Compare the same color from different mediums. This is helpful if you are a multi-media artist.


Old Watercolor swatch method


old method for watercolor swatches
old method for watercolor swatches


When I started out as a watercolor artist, I used to do swatches like this. I saw many artists doing this and I thought, this is the only right way to do it. I never found a way to use it properly. Maybe it is my personal problem and maybe it is working best for you.


This watercolor swatch method doesn't work for me because of these reasons:

1) Very busy

2) Duplicacy

3) Doesn't work if you have many colors

4) Hard to plan a painting





1) Very busy

When you paint so many colors on the same page and you also paint their mixtures altogether, it seems very busy and confusing.


2) Duplicacy

You will notice that you are swatching every single color twice and that makes it look more confusing rather than helping. If you have made a watercolor swatch card like this, you can see that you have swatched every color and their mixture twice which is useless.


3) Doesn't work if you have many colors

Making this type of swatch card is pretty easy if you have only a few colors. What if you have 30 colors? What to do when you buy colors later. How will you add those to your swatch card? Even if you manage to squeeze all the colors on a giant paper, it is difficult to store it properly.


4) Hard to plan a painting

It is very hard to plant a painting with so many small square boxes of colors. You can't plan which color will look best with which color. As the position of the color is fixed, it is hard to see how the colors will look together in your painting.


New watercolor swatch method

New watercolor swatch method
New watercolor swatch method

As the previous method was not working for me, I read a few blogs and saw a few videos on YouTube and I found this better way to do color swatches.


How to do watercolor swatches

For this method, I started with cutting my paper in rectangle shapes. Then I started painting colors and colors mixies on one side of the card and on the backside, I noted the name of the color, the brand and if it is a mixture of colors, I noted which colors I used. You can go into more details and note down more things like opacity, paint information, etc.


I wanted to keep it basic so I noted a few things only. The colors I use are Winsor and Newton and Sennelier. I use Brustro's 100% cotton cold-pressed watercolor paper.





Benefits of using this watercolor swatches method

Benefits of watercolor swatch cards
Benefits of watercolor swatch cards

1) By swatching on separate cards, you can arrange and re-arrange them the way you want.


2) If you use artist-grade watercolors, they are expensive. When you see these swatches you can realize your next purchase. For example, if you have too many reds, it is time to buy some Blues or Greens.


3) The best benefit I found with this method is, you can compare the same color from different brands when planning for a painting or purchasing the color. I have written a blog about a comparison on Sap Green from Winsor and Newton and Sennelier.


Watercolor swatch cards
Watercolor swatch cards

While doing watercolor swatches, I recommend you to use the paper you use for your final paintings, that way you will be able to see how the particular color behaves on that paper.





I hope you have found this article helpful. If you do your color swatches differently, I would love to know your style.


Thank you so much for stopping by. If you don't want to miss a blog, please subscribe and be my BFF :)


If you want to read about my 31 days of mini watercolor painting experience and want to start a similar challenge, I have written a blog about it with some tips and benefits, I am sure you don't want to miss out. If you are more of a video person, I have made a YouTube video about the same.



Love,

heli





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