Color Trends

In the past few weeks I have found myself back behind the mixing counter of two different paint stores adding colorants to the paint I was buying, in order to get the color I had envisioned. I have to say that neither of these stores was a specialty paint store and in one I was dealing with an around 18 year old without a clue, and in the other, a guy who only spoke Chinese and who wore half inch thick glasses… Still, sometimes paint chips just aren’t enough. The customer wants something between “eggnog” and “amber bisque” (those names.. I love the names!!! Who comes up with those???

This made me think about the art of mixing colors.

When I first started painting, in the pre-computer 70’s, a huge part of being a painter was mixing and matching colors. We had to be able to work with the customer, drop by drop, to get exactly the color they wanted.

One of our main tools for learning this was the color wheel. Where have they all gone? I haven’t seen one in a long time!

The beautiful thing about a color wheel is that it is totally logical. You have your primary colors red, blue & yellow set on the circle at 12, 4 and 8 o’clock. In between are the secondary colors, green, orange and purple, etc. By adding black and white to any combination will get you practically every color you can imagine.

Mixing any two colors opposite each other on the wheel should give you a neutral gray color. It is important that your primary colors are as pure as possible, (not too greenish blue, not too orangish red….) Therefore, if the color you are mixing is too yellow, you can neutralize the yellow by adding purple because purple is on the other side of the wheel. Too blue, add orange and so on.

I am sure many of you know all this already, but you would be surprised at how many painters out there don’t know how to custom mix colors. Many of them don’t even carry colorants. With computer matching and paint chips, it could turn into a dying art. Don’t get me wrong, computer color mixing is a wonderful, timesaving invention, but don’t you think you’d feel more comfortable suggesting bold colors if you knew you could “fix” them? It’s hard enough for a customer to pick a color off of a tiny chip and we all know once it’s on the wall, its going to look a lot different.

We painters need to keep our eyes open for the newest trends. After all, we are in the painting AND decorating business!! My open eyes are seeing a lot of exciting colors. For example, I went to go see the new Bruce Willis movie, The Whole Nine Yards. Bruce moves into this house and his walls were painted a dark, dark gray (almost black!) with white trim. I’ve got to say, I have never done almost black walls, but in the movie and considering his character, those dark walls looked pretty cool. Or look at that MTV beach house! I would love to paint that!!

Bold colors are in. If we feel confident that we can get exactly the right color without wasting paint or making 100 trips to the store, our customers will feel more confident about choosing their colors, or better yet, “helping” you create their very own color.


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