Probably one of the most daunting challenges for a newbie artist is choosing appropriate colors for the palette. Color choice is totally arbitrary and the artist’s choice. There are, however, some considerations. Many in fact. Motif – What are you painting or drawing? What is the “mood” of the work, the setting, the time of day, the season? 


All of these questions must be considered to choose a good variety of colors that will fit your ideas. It helps to understand the color wheel. My opinion, all new art students should be required to study, create, and understand the theory of the color wheel. 


For one thing, a truly polished/experienced artist must know there are way more colors than we normally see on a color wheel. It takes a lot of practice and intuition to learn what to mix with what to get the colors desired. Many more than the primary, secondary, and even tertiary colors. Motif “mood” – What are you trying to say in your piece? Is it bright and happy, or more calm or even sullen? 


This will set the color choices on a certain area of the color wheel and will certainly require color mixing to achieve what you are trying to “say”. New painters tend to paint with brighter colors because of a lack of color mixing skill or knowledge. Mood has a lot to do with color choices. Time of day – Time of day in a piece is vital as well to color choice. The light direction and strength from the sun, or lack of sun if it is a night scene. 


The best experience to judge this is merely to experience it. Observe! Observe! Observe! Make it your business to look and study times of day, color and brightness or dullness. Season – Again, dictates color choice. It goes without saying the colors of spring, summer, fall and winter. Of course, there are so many variables that can occur even for season – rain, snow, sun, clouds, fog. 


Many factors that will also play into your color choices. Some considerations for selecting your color schemes on your palette. My biggest advice is to get a total understanding of color and mixing. This takes practice to master, something all painters should do. You painter’s life will be much easier after achieving mastery of the color wheel and mixing.

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