Selecting The Right Color: Everything You Ever Wanted To Know And More

By Nicole Tinkham

Ever find yourself staring at a blank canvas even though you have a complete composition already laid out in in your mind? The hard part is over; you have all the ideas but can’t seem to actually get started. Here’s why: you’re having a difficult time selecting your color palette. If you ever find yourself so unsure of which color to select that it prevents you from starting a painting altogether, you need to read this blog. We’ll dive into everything you ever wanted to know about selecting the right color and more. This will help you get started right away on your projects because you’ll already have it in your mind what colors you want to work with.

Color palette

The first thing you’ll want to do before starting a painting is determine your color palette. This is usually a main color with a few supporting colors that go along with it. When it comes to realistic paintings, you’ll want to choose colors that match your subject as closely as possible. Otherwise you’re totally open to selecting whichever colors you want. Having so many options is typically where the trouble lies though. Every color portrays a certain feel so let’s begin there. Think about how you want the viewer to feel and what message you want to get across then determine which color below aligns with that best.

Reds = Passion, Explosive
Blues = Bold, Clean, Intelligent
Greens = Simple, New
Purples = Elegant, Smooth
Yellows = Joy, Bliss
Pinks = Power, Glamorous
Orange = Energy, Creativity

Hue vs Tint vs Shade

When selecting colors, it’s also important to understand the difference between hue, tint, and shade. This will give you different variations of a color. Hue is the pure color without anything mixed in with it. Tint on the other hand, is a lighter version of the original color as it’s mixed with white. Shade is then the opposite. It’s darker than the original color and mixed with black.

The Color Wheel

A color wheel is an excellent tool for any artist whether you’re a total newbie or experienced. We always recommend having a color wheel on hand. This tool will lay out your color options and help you pair colors up to form your color palette. On your color wheel, you’ll find the following colors.

Primary Colors = Blue, Yellow and Red

Secondary Colors = Green, Orange, and Purple

Tertiary Colors = Amber, Chartreuse, Teal, Violet, Magenta, Vermilion

Color Schemes

Once you have that main color selected, it’s time to think about your supporting colors. This is where using your color wheel really becomes helpful. Use the following color schemes to help you determine your supporting colors. They are proven colors to work well together.

Monochromatic = These are colors within the same section of the color wheel. They will be the same color but in different tints and shades.

Analogous = These are colors that can be found on either side of your main chosen color on the color wheel, one on the right and one on the left.

Complimentary = These are two colors directly opposite one another on the color wheel.

This simple guide for choose the perfect colors can be used for more than just your painting project. It can be used to help you find a frame for your project, determining what color to paint the walls in your home, decorating, and just about anything else that involves color choices. Investing in a color wheel will be the key to success especially if you’re a beginner artist but it’s also a great way to think up fresh color combinations that you may not have thought of before. Save this guide and use it whenever you get stuck choosing the perfect color for your project. No longer will color choices hold you back!

5 Things You Need To Know About Oil And Wax Colored Pencils

By Nicole Tinkham

5 Things You Need To Know About Oil And Wax Colored Pencils

You may not know the difference between oil-based colored pencils and wax ones. Or you may not even realize that there are two different types of colored pencils. That’s ok! No shame here, I didn’t know the difference myself. I knew one of the two were the common colored pencils that we see everywhere. You know, the Prismacolors we all know and love. The other type, I had never used and knew absolutely nothing about. It’s funny how when you get used to one thing it’s tough to try something else, isn’t it? You already know what to expect from wax-based colored pencils and more importantly, know how to use them (oil-based are a completely different feel). Not only will you tend to stick with what you know (and save some money while doing so), but you’ll also most likely miss oil-based pencils altogether unless you’re really looking for them. Wax-based are much more popular and can be found just about anywhere. But as we know, just because one type is more popular than the other doesn’t mean its better. Read on for 5 things you need to know about oil and wax colored pencils.
1.    Wax-based colored pencils tend to show up lighter on the paper allowing you to work in layers. Oil-based pencils lay down a lot of color, eliminating the need to work in layers.

2.    Oil-based pencils are much more expensive than wax-based ones but they offer a professional (think oil painting) look.

3.    There’s a wide range of wax-based pencils to choose from with the hard lead you probably used in grade school and a softer lead used by more experienced artists. Oil-based pencils on the other hand are more specialized, smear easily, and rely on the artist’s skill.

4.    Wax-based pencils offer a softer core that can break easily. They also tend to leave a film on the work surface. Oil-based pencils have a harder core and don’t leave behind that film.

5.    It’s recommended to use a fixative with wax-based pencils as it prevents the wax from rising to the surface or “blooming”. A fixative is not needed when working with oil-based colored pencils.

When it comes down to choosing either wax-based or oil-based colored pencils to work with, it’s all about personal preference. Both options have their pros and cons producing different looks. If you’ve worked with colored pencils in the past, they were most likely wax-based since those are the most popular. If you’re comfortable and happy with them, that’s perfect! But if you want to try something new, grab a few oil-based pencils and go to town! Be sure to leave a comment below and let us know your experience with either or both options.

How to mix black watercolor paint like a pro

By Nicole Tinkham

How to mix black watercolor paint

If you’ve painted with watercolors at any point, you’ve probably run across a question most artists do: should you use a black watercolor paint right out of the tube or mix your own? Sounds way easier to get the pre-mixed version, right? You should know that pre-mixed black watercolor paint tend to be neutral and dull. By mixing your own, you’re able to adjust the tone going on either the warm or the cool side. Doing this will bring more life into your painting. We like to think of these as “darks” rather than blacks but we’ll get more into that later. Mixing your own black watercolor paint also puts you in total control. Your dark background can support your main focus in the painting and really make it stand out. Playing with warm and cool darks also creates depth in your painting. Are you interested in learning how to mix your own blacks? We’ll show you how to do this like a pro with these 5 simple tricks.
1.    Use three basic colors:

Alizarin Crimson

Phthalo Green

Phthalo Blue

When mixing the three, keep in mind the color of the object you want to stand out in the painting. Our objective here is to produce a complimentary color. Say you’re main subject is red. In this case, you’ll want to compliment the red with green. To do that, you would mix Alizarin Crimson and Phthalo green with only a touch of Phthalo Blue. Basically, you’re favoring the complimentary color when mixing your black.

2.    Think of them as “darks” not blacks

In your painting, you don’t always have to use straight black. Dark blues, greens, and browns are also an option. You can still get a rich, dark color this way and it prevents that dull and muddy look of using too much straight black.

3.    Use little water

The less water you use, the more pigment you will have and the more intense color you will produce. So if you’re looking for that super rich black, don’t load your brush up with water, don’t constantly wash your brush between colors, and be sure to use plenty of paint.

4.    Play around with mixing

Just like mixing other colors, mixing black will take practice. Use the basic formula (color 1 + color 2 + small amount of color 3) then add even more of one of the colors. See what you get. Try different types of red, blue, and green paint. How does it differ?

5.    Mix with Ivory Black

If you want a very dark black, you can use Ivory Black in the tube and mix it with either red, blue, green, or yellow depending on what tint you want the black to have. This is the shortcut to mixing black but still produces lovely dark colors.

When it comes to mixing paint, don’t be afraid to jump right in and experiment. This blog features 5 tips for mixing your own black but it’s only meant to be a guide to get you started. Feel free to ditch the “rules” and figure things out for yourself by playing around with color. Whatever you do discover, we’d love to hear about it! Leave a COMMENT below with your findings and your own tips for mixing watercolors.

How to turn 3 colors of paint into millions of colors

By Nicole Tinkham

How to turn 3 colors of paint into millions(1)

If we were to give you 3 tubes of paint – just three different colors – and asked you to paint a landscape, would you be able to do it? The answer is yes, you can in fact complete a painting with only three basic colors of paint (and the other painting supplies needed, of course). You may be thinking “How is this possible??” Let us explain. Here’s how to turn 3 colors of paint into millions of colors.

The colors– In order to mix various colors with only three tubes of paint, you must begin with the basic primary colors.

1.    Red
2.    Yellow
3.    Blue

*Other supplies you’ll need*

Palette to mix colors on
Palette knife to mix colors
Paper towels and water for clean up
Paint surface

Let’s experiment! – This tutorial is meant for you to just play with the colors and have fun!

1.    Place a small amount of each primary color onto your paint palette and dab a bit of each onto your paint surface.

2.    To begin mixing, you’re going to add 50% yellow to each primary color. It sounds like it’s a lot of math but it’s really quite simple. Here’s the breakdown:

–    Yellow + Yellow = Yellow
–    Yellow + Red = Orange
–    Yellow + Blue = Green

3.    Starting with your three primary colors again (yellow, red, and blue), do the same exact thing but this time add 50% blue. Here’s how it should look:

–    Blue + Yellow = Green
–    Blue + Red = Purple
–    Blue + Blue = Blue

4.    It may seem redundant but we’re going to do the same thing again, this time adding 50% red to each primary color. Here’s how it looks:

–    Red + Yellow = Orange
–    Red + Red = Red
–    Red + Blue = Purple

5.    Now that you have the basics of mixing down, play around with your percentages. For example, instead of 50% yellow, try adding 70% yellow to your blue for a more yellow green. Take the time to experiment and discover how to make different colors. These are your secondary colors.

6.    Next you’ll be mixing your secondary colors with your primary colors. You’ll get a more unique range by doing this. Mix 50% of your primary colors with your secondary colors as follows.

–    Orange + Yellow
–    Violet + Red
–    Green + Blue

Once you’ve done that, go back and play with your ratios again to see what new colors you come up with.

7.    Now mix equal parts of all three of your primary colors together. You should get brown. This is a great start to creating skin tones and shadows.

Tinting– Now that you’ve had the chance to create new colors by mixing colors together, it’s time to discover the array of different tints that can be created simply by adding white.

“Tinting” is the word used to describe lightening your paint colors. Every color has what’s known as a tinting strength, or limit to how much lighter you can make it. Since darker colors are dark to start with, they have a higher tinting strength than lighter colors. Play around with gradually adding white to your colors to see how they transform.

Shading– The opposite of tinting is shading where you add black to your colors to make them darker. Be careful and only add small amounts of black at a time! Shading is best used for creating shadows. Now play around by adding a small amount of black to your colors to see how they change.

Congratulations! You are now a magician, sort of… But we bet some of your friends will be pretty impressed with your new skill to create tons of different colors using only three paint tubes. Maybe your next party trick? 🙂 We always say that the best way to understand something or to learn something new is by actually doing it. Take time to experiment and see what colors you can come up with. Don’t worry about creating pretty colors. Just do your thing and experiment!

Tell us, how has this post helped you understand paint colors and how to mix them? COMMENT below!

29+ Prismacolor Pencil Tips & Techniques

By Nicole Tinkham

29 Prismacolor Pencil Tips & Techniques

You asked and we listened. One of the art supplies you were dying to learn more about was Prismacolor colored pencils. Great choice! Prismacolor brings an array of quality art supplies including markers, pastels, charcoal, graphite, and of course colored pencils. As far as colored pencils go, you can learn about ALL of your many options here. But we’re going to take that previous blog post a step further and bring to you exactly what you need to know about using them right here in this post. Here are the top tips and techniques for using Prismacolor Colored Pencils.


1.    Layering: Lightly layer colors to create new colors.

2.    Blender pencil: This is a clear colored pencil specifically for blending purposes. This colorless blender is used to fuse colors together. Hint: If you don’t have a colorless blender, you can use a colored pencil in a light shade.

3.    Glaze effect: You can also blend a colorless pencil with a colored pencil to create a sheer glaze.

4.    Wash effect: Using mineral spirits will give you a softer blend and wash effect.

5.    Wide coverage: Using a bristle brush, you can drag the color out to cover a large area.

6.    Smudge the color: Using a cloth, rub into the color and smudge to desired area.

7.    Pushing the color around: Tortillions can be used to push colors around. A tortillion is basically tightly wound paper used for blending.


8.    Rough background texture: Using sand paper under the paper will create a bumpy texture.

9.    Create patterns: Use a textured rubbing plate under the paper to create textured patterns. This is similar to the sand paper concept mentioned above.

10.    Impressed lines: Press a stylus into the paper to create grooves and color over them with a colored pencil.

11.    Using a textured paper: If you’re working on a paper with a tooth, remember that pressing down hard with the pencil could flatten the raised texture.


12.    Masking off areas: Using a removable tape will keep straight edges clean and not damage the paper.

13.    How to use the last little bit of pencil: A pencil extender is an accessory Prismacolor offers to get the most out of every stub.

14.    Easy solvent: This is a pretty cool tip. Hand sanitizer can be used as a solvent for Prismacolor pencils.

15.    Watercolor pencil: Watercolor pencils work like MAGIC. You’ll seriously be amazed. We have a whole blog post dedicated to them here.

16.    Creating black without a black pencil: Using several deep colors can create a more intense black than the color black itself.

17.    Light to dark vs. dark to light: There’s no right or wrong way to go about doing this. Do whatever feels comfortable for you.

18.    Wax build up: If you see a white film build up on your drawing don’t freak out. This happens (normally when color is applied heavily) when the wax from the pencil rises to the surface. Simply wipe away with a cloth.

19.    Experiment with different surfaces: Prismacolor pencils can be used on various types of paper, wood, paper mache, and more.

20.    Be gentle: When Prismacolor pencils drop or get banged together, the inside core could break. No good!

21.    Use on canvas:  Try them out on a gessoed canvas or illustration board for a different look.

22.    DIY Prismacolor paint: Rub Prismacolor Art Stix on a sanding block to get a powder-like version of the pigment. Stir in odorless mineral spirits and use as paint!

23.    Add details to an oil painting: Colored pencils can be used to add details like eyes or highlights in hair to an oil painting.

24.    Filling in the tooth of the paper: The rougher the surface of the paper, the sharper you want your pencil. This will help you fill in all the nooks and cranny’s.


25.    Final fixative: This one seals out the air. This prevents the wax build-up that you may have experience. At this point you cannot rework anything. The drawing is final.

26.    Workable fixative: Allows you to add more layers by coating the surface with a “tooth”.


27.    Erasing: Prismacolor pencils aren’t easily erasable but an electric eraser is the best way to go.

28.    Lifting color: You know that putty used to hang artwork on the walls? It can also be used to lift color from a Prismacolor pencil drawing. Get it here.

29.    Sharpening: Prismacolor pencils have a soft and delicate core. Be extremely careful when sharpening. Don’t violently wiggle the pencil around in the sharpener.

Thanks to our fans, here are a few more Prismacolor tips!

30. If you mess up, you can take a really sharp white colored pencil and sort of “erase it” -Jonathan

31. Use clear Scotch tape or art tape to peel up a few layers at a time without ruining the paper. You can get most of it off that way and it will give you a good base to start off with again. -Jonathan

32. “When using a solvent in tight places, look for very small Qtips in Nail & Cosmetic stores. They are invaluable! For even tinier Qtips, ask your dentist for the little ones they use on your teeth. They are great!” -Suzanne

33. “If the core is broken you can put them in the oven on 200 degrees for 2 to 5 minutes then take out and cool to room temp. I put them in the frig to cool faster. I also heard you could put in microwave but I have never done it that way.” -Virginia Estep

34. “I put my Prismas on a heating pad to mend if they break and in summer the car dashboard works well. I’ve tried the microwave and the wood casing cracked, so don’t recommend that method!” Ukknight

35. “Use ear cleaning buds to blend” – lewisimpson

36. “Don’t let your puppy get hold of your pencils!” –Trish Councell

37.” Using a heated surface will allow rich colours. A local artist uses a custom board, I’ve been experimenting with putting a heating pad under my art board.” -Greg

38. “I started sharpening my pencils on a nail file and spun it as I did to keep it even. This keeps the points from breaking as much. I also use rubbing alcohol to dissolve the wax so I can add more color on top.” –britcomeauxbooks

49. “After applying color to my artwork I will go back over all my sharp borders with a black gel pen. It really makes the color pop!” Davey Barnett

50. “To elaborate on NOT using a microwave: Some of the colors actually catch fire due to material used. I believe the gold paint on the casing is also a fire hazard. Microwaves just use far too much heat all at once. You want to bind the cores together, not nuke them to oblivion. For more even coverage color in a circular motion as opposed to side to side or up and down. I’ve found it especially helping while blending.Stump starting to get too small for the extender? Glue it to the end of a new pencil and keep sharpening and coloring.” –Lindsay Graves

51. “A prismacolor artist from Illinois named Dooley created great effects by dry brushing gesso with them. He started by using gesso to create bright highlights. He also used oil pastels in large areas, such as backgrounds on large drawings.” Sara Frenz

52. “You can left layers of color by using a curved exact blade. Gently scrape the excess color of very gently and brush them away.” Chandell Coombs
53. “Use prisma colors pencils and water colors paint together. The wax in the leads is resistant to the watercolors and easily whipes away with damp clothe or q-tps. Makes it easier to create large backgrounds. Or base colors for large areas that you can ten add more olor and texture with your prisma color leads.” Chandell Coombs

54. “I use a powdered stick deodorant (Secret sheer dry) either before laying down color or after the color has been laid down to blend smoothly using a Q-tip. The color moves so easily and blends very nicely. You can even lay on more color if you want!” -Peggy H.

55. “Rub with aloe vera impregnated tissues wound around a cotton bud to achieve the shine after the final layer of Prismacolor pencil. Color can bleed a little so best to ‘shine’ one color at a time and best to use the resealable pocket pack of tissues, as effect of aloevera disappears in a large box of opened tissues.” -Penny

56. “The best pencil sharpener I’ve discovered yet for prismacolor pencils is the kiss brand eye/lip pencil sharpener. It seems to sharpen away less wood and core. Also, not only does the colorless blender pencil blend colors together nicely, it covers the tiny white spots that show through the pencil, and brightens the pigment tremendously!” -Tabby

57. “I wouldn’t recommend this for fine art, but for more casual stuff it’s very cool: you can blend & smooth heavy layers of color using a plastic eraser. I have a Staedtler Mars round plastic eraser in a hold – it moves the color around quite a bit without lifting off much of it, isn’t real good for tight places or exacting work, but for sketchy stuff or large areas it’s nice!”
“Also – I’ve microwaved PrismaColors to ‘repair’ broken inner lead & it seems to work BUT – be careful – I start run it for 5 – 6 seconds & still sometimes the paint blisters a bit. But it’s better than shredding away 3/4s of a brand new pencil trying to get a tip. (I love ya, PrismaColor except for that!!)” -Nancy

58. “Chartpack Markers carries a colorless blender that works wonders.” – Jason Jamaal

59. “White color pencils can make your colors look darker and blend colors together.” – Kayla

We don’t want this to be the final list of tips and techniques for working with Prismacolor pencils. How about we make a goal right here, right now to get this list to 50. We want valuable tips from REAL artists like you that are reading this blog. We can’t do it without YOU! Comment below with any experiences you’ve learned from when using colored pencils in your art. Have you ever experimented with a unique paper? Have you found a trick to fixing broken pencils? Are you an expert at storing and organizing supplies? Let us know in the comments below or over on our Facebook page.

How to Tell Good Abstract Art from Bad

By Nicole Tinkham

How to Tell Good Abstract Art from Bad

When looking at a famous abstract painting do you ever think “I could do that”? If you’re wondering how something so simple can be considered a masterpiece, you’re not alone. Is it really as easy as we think or is there true artistic talent behind these works of art? Believe it or not, there’s science proving that there is in fact a difference between a painting done by a professional and random splatters on a canvas. Before trying to re-create a masterpiece hoping to make millions, pay attention to this blog and see what the experts have to say as well as what to look for in a professionally done piece.

The Research

A study done by two psychologists shows that statistically people CAN tell an abstract painting done by a professional artist vs a child, chimp, gorilla, elephant, or monkey. Which is surprising considering those monkeys aren’t half bad 🙂 In the study, 72 undergrads (40 psychology and 32 art majors) were asked to determine which painting (shown side by side) was done by an adult artist. Paintings were grouped together by similar attributes such as color and medium. Non-art majors chose the professional painting 65.5% of the time and art majors chose them 67.5% of the time. Researchers concluded, “ people can recognize that a work is good, but still not like it.”

What to look for in “good” abstract art

Just because this research tells us we can distinguish an abstract painting done by a professional vs a non-artist, that doesn’t mean it’s easier for us pick out certain paintings from others. Here’s how to tell good abstract art from bad.

1. Consistency
This refers to the consistency within a painting as well as the consistency of an artist’s portfolio. If a portfolio is all over the place with a few stunning pieces mixed with low quality work, the artist is either still developing or doesn’t quite know what they’re doing. Same goes for within a single painting. The flow must be consistent from one side of the painting to the other with planned and precise strokes.

2. Color
Colors that don’t mesh well together are a dead giveaway that the artist isn’t a professional unless of course it’s done deliberately in which case it has to be obvious.

3. Texture
Most of the time, good abstract art is compiled of layers. There’s typically and underpainting and these layers often create texture.

4. Meaning
All great art has some sort of meaning behind it. Some type of emotion, whether positive or negative gets thrown onto the canvas. There’s thought and planning put into it. You’ll know when an abstract piece is done at random. It lacks personality.

5. Complexity
As an artist completes more and more pieces, they grow and learn new techniques, which is evident in their work. In contrast to what you may think about abstract art, the techniques used in this style (by a professional) cannot be easily replicated.

6. Comfort
Uncomfortable paint strokes will tell you right away that the artist is an amateur. Experienced artists are confident and produce every mark with intention. Paint splatters may look random but they’re put there for a reason.

There are so many different feelings toward abstract art. There are many people that simply don’t understand it, others that think they can replicate it, and of course the abstract artists themselves who put much more time and thought into it than many non-artists realize. Tell us, what do YOU think? Does this research and qualities of good abstract art change your mind about it?

Comment below or connect with us on Facebook!

6 MORE Things You Never Knew about Can Liners

By Nicole Tinkham


So we’re guessing you’re feeling pretty confident in purchasing can liners for the office after reading our post last week: 3 Things You MUST Know About Can Liners. However, if you’re looking to become an EXPERT in this area, there are a few more things you need to know. Impress your friends with liner facts, know the benefits of a star seal, learn the correct way liners fit into a can, and much more. Read on to become the liner expert you’ve always wanted to be.

1. Selecting the correct size can liner

We’ve talked about choosing can liner sizes in the previous post but what you really need to know is how they’re going to fit in your waste can. You want them to fit snuggly. Too small, and they’ll tear. Too big, and they can fall into the waste can. The ideal size liner should hang 5-6” from the top of the waste can. Check out the chart below to see the correct fittings.


2. The seal type

The part of the bag you probably never notice (the bottom seal) actually determines whether or not you’ll experience leaks. Do you want leaks? We didn’t think so! Here’s what you need to know about star seals, flat seals, and gusseted seals.

STAR SEAL (or X-Seal)

star seal

This is the most common type of liner seal and the most effective in eliminating leaks. It will conform to your can’s shape and evenly distribute the weight of the trash.


flat seal

This type of seal resembles a pillow case with it’s pointed ends. This liner is strong but can leak from the corners. It’s also awkward to handle and doesn’t conform well to all waste cans.



As you can see, a gusseted seal is similar to a flat seal but the ends are tucked in. These tend to be lower quality with a weak bottom seal.

3. Packaging

Packaging may not seem important but there are many options that you need to be aware of. Each manufacturer will offer different quantities per carton and different pack styles. The pack style refers to whether or not they’re packaged in rolls and the style of the rolls. Here are 3 choices you have when it comes to packaging style:




4. Color

The color of a liner isn’t a huge deal but there are a few options to discuss. Low-density liners offer a wide range of colors (black, white, brown, green, gray, etc.) while high-density liners are limited to opaque or natural colors.

5. Recycled

If your office is working on going green, there are several environmentally friendly choices. Take a look at liners by EarthSense, many of which are SCS Certified.

6. And some fun facts you probably never knew..

• The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that Americans generate about 4.6 pounds of trash per person every single day. (WOW!)

• Harry Wasylyk invented the trash bags we use today, selling them in 1950 to a community hospital.

• In 1984, the drawstring was introduced by Glad and Hefty.

Taking your supply knowledge to the next level ensures the ideal products for your office every single time. Of course we’re always here to assistance with you purchases but having these helpful guides will save you loads of TIME! How has our buying guides helped you? Comment in the box below.