Make Watercolor Swatches

Turn up the Saturation

I’m looking out my window and everything looks like the color plug got pulled – the usually blue sky, green fields, and red earth have drained away and everything is in shades of grey or muted colors. I’m thinking we all need a quick color fix.

I’m making color swatches with water color paint, but you can use other types of paint, colored pencils or even crayons for this. And if you have more time to experiment, use the colors you like from your swatches to  color a mandala.

You can always read the written directions below the video, or if you just want me to show you what I’m talking about, catch the video:


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Download the Swatches Template


You’ll need just a few supplies and you can purchase these from the links below:

The whole point of this is getting comfortable with water color paint (or any color, for that matter) using swatches.
  • Choose just one color and work on different mixes of water to make it lighter. Start bold and bright on the left and work your way to light on the right using more water in the pigment. Use less pigment to lighten and illuminate your work.
  • Next, blend the primary colors to create gradients for red to orange to yellow, yellow to green to blue and blue to purple to red.
  • What colors from these swatches are drawing your eye? Once you are done making your swatches, use another piece of paper to create gradients with these colors.
The way we relate to certain colors can be very telling about our personalities. What do your color preferences say about you? How can you use color to influence others? Take this color quiz to learn more about how colors influence and reflect who you are.
Make watercolor swatches

The Recap

  1. Its grey and dark outside (at least in my corner of the world) – brighten up your desaturated day with some color.
  2. Get comfortable using color with swatches first, then build on the colors you find appealing with more experimentation. Mess around with gradients or painting a mandala.
  3. Even the most basic action of playing with color swatches can help us discover more about what appeals to us- don’t worry about the ‘why‘, but do play with the ‘how‘.

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