Just because I’m an artist, that doesn’t mean I can’t be color challenged. That is definitely how I’ve felt in choosing a new wall color for my studio. I never thought it would be so difficult to choose a paint color. I’m an artist, right? I work with color all the time. I choose colors for my artwork, often working intuitively, mixing and blending until the colors evoke the feeling of the piece. This should be a piece of cake.
My studio is on the third floor. It has nice natural light but can feel a little cold in the winter. The current wall color is builder basic: antique white; a very light yellow. Flat. Dull. Boring.
I had an idea of what color I wanted for my studio walls. I love the Tuscan yellows and golds and thought they would warm up the walls. So I brought home a bunch of sample chips in that color family.
Then the clerk at the local Ace Hardware tells me they loan out the color books at the store. These books have 8″x8″ color samples. It will make choosing a color easier because of the larger sample. Hang it on the wall. See it at different times of day and in different light.
Next thing I know I’ve pulled 17 samples from the book that contained most of my color preferences. 17 colors stuck to my studio walls. This is not going to be easy.
After a process of elimination and asking artist friends for their input, I narrowed down my color choices to three. Then off I went to the paint store to purchase small cans of paint in my chosen colors, some small rollers, and a paint tray.
First, I thought I’d go bold. I tried out the sample called August Morning, a dark orangey-gold looking color.
And this is how the paint sample looked on the wall:
Yep, it’s dark orange. It’s pretty bold and intense. My first warning came when I opened the paint can and saw orange sherbet.
Next up was Golden Mist. Golden Mist was a wild-card choice. I saw it at the last minute in one of my many swatches. Still being in a bold mood, I gave it a go.
The sample fit my original thought of something Tuscan-like. And then I put it on the wall.
This color was deceiving out of the can. It looked much lighter as I stirred it. But when paint met the wall, it became this deep gold color with a touch of magenta in the base mix. Initially I thought it was a color I could live with. Yet as the weekend grew longer and I tried to picture this color on all the studio walls, I started to feel claustrophobic and shut in.
On Sunday I put Crisp Straw, choice #3, on the wall. I was a little leary because the base mix included orange, yellow, and gray!
When I look at this sample, it looks like straw; a light colored beige with a hint of yellow. And then I put it on the wall.
Crisp Straw is a soft peach! I couldn’t believe it. Since when does the color “straw” look like the color “peach?” In this picture, it looks a little fleshy.
But the third time was the charm. Crisp Straw presented as a soft, warm, feminine color. Just the right amount of warmth and color for the studio walls without being too bold or too dark. And it won’t make me feel claustrophobic.
I chuckled as my original paint idea morphed into something I really had not considered. And a wave of relief came over me as well. I had felt completely frustrated by the fact that I couldn’t find a color I liked. That little voice of failure was speaking up, mocking me as an artist who couldn’t choose a simple color.
While I had decided early on not to lose sleep over the situation, I was worried that the painters would arrive and I’d still be undecided. Or I’d have to go with a back up plan: something neutral, in beige.
So, there you have it. An artist can indeed be color challenged. Perhaps our love of color can also be a hindrance. Fortunately, I found a color I liked and that I can live with for the next few years.
May 6, 2011 at 10:49 am
Amy, I went through a very similar journey when I was choosing paint for my new place about a year and a half ago. In fact, I think I chose August Morning as one of my go-tos in my attempt to find a warm orange-y yellow. Just like you, I entered this process with my artistic color confidence but it was soon challenged when I bought the little sample paint cans and painted a posterboard with the color I thought I loved. I was shocked to find out how very different the color looked as a bigger square. It seemed so much more saturated and a lot brighter than the little chip I fell in love with. In reading an interior designer’s blog post about paint color recently, she said that whenever a client chooses a color, she always goes lighter and grayer than what they chose. Which is exactly what you ended up with! Looking forward to seeing your newly painted studio. I know it will be fabulous! -Karen
May 6, 2011 at 5:03 pm
Ahhh… you certainly did the right thing in being choosy and testing the colors. It’s gonna be bootiful.