How to Create Spring Color Palette

spring girl

Okay,  let’s talk color today. Specifically, spring color.

Why have seasonal palettes? Because if you put together a group of colors before you start painting,  you’ll know automatically what colors work and go together…and what colors don’t.

There’s nothing like being really happy with how a lovely watercolor sketch is coming along and in the middle of thinking about how your mum will really enjoy this one, you get stuck on what kind of yellow to use. It’s a spring palette (so all the colors should be primary, bright, exuberant), but you choose a opaque yellow ochre and all of a sudden the whole painting goes a bit sideways.

I hate that. Using color palettes that don’t work  happens a lot to me, which is why I’ve been developing a group of colors that I work with for certain paintings.


My grandfather, who was a working artist, told me I should limit my colors when I paint. It’s not that you need to only use certain colors all the time, but for a look that is tight, concise and will be helpful in identifying your work as YOURS, using a color palette will help make you stand out.

spring gerber daisies

It’s extra helpful to think of each color combination in terms of nature because it’s easier to remember and there are lots of examples all around us!  The next time you go outside, especially now as spring is in full bloom, check out all the examples nature gives us. The fresh green leaves, the flowers growing, the colors of the birds, the water- it’s full of bright color, life and light.

Spring, and the colors associated with spring, are bright, lively, inviting, exuberant, joyful, full of light, almost bouncy.  When you go to the store or, even better, a farmers market, check out the flowers. They will be a rainbow of bright spring colors.

What does a spring palette look like? Think bright and pure reds, blues, greens, lemon yellows, vivid pinks. This spring girl is full of light and movement. There’s not a lot of heaviness about her. The one thing I would change is the blue around the bottom- that feels weighted to me and a spring look should be light and moving.

spring girl with flowers

There will be no grays or blacks added to the focal colors. You may need to use dark colors for shadows, lines, etc, but black won’t be a mainstay. The colors are bright-

The reason there are no grays is because gray (and black added to most colors) will mute the colors and weigh them down. (a characteristic of spring and autumn palettes).

This spring girl captures the spring green and pink. My goal was to keep the colors pure (no muting with complementary colors mixed in).

This spring girl captures the spring green and pink. My goal was to keep the colors pure (no muting with complementary colors mixed in).

If you use acrylic paints, you won’t add white to your paints – which would also create a muted effect.

You want spring colors to sing off the page.  Does this help?  I hope so. I’ll be back later this week with pictures of my spring color palette.


2 Comments on “How to Create Spring Color Palette”

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