Color Trends 2013 – Write your own Color Story

The Valspar paint collection – image from their website

Years ago when I gave private art lessons, I emphasized a few vital concepts that taken to heart would allow anyone to attain their best result, irrespective of native ability, or “talent”.

1. Depth is an illusion. Your paper or canvas is one dimensional – depth is achieved via color.

2. Shadows are never grey or black.

3. Tree trunks are never brown.

4. The sky is never just one flat blue – even when it is blue.

5. Don’t sweat the  details, or for that matter even think of them until the form is in place. A bad drawing with detailed eye lashes is a bad drawing with detailed eye lashes!

If you need proof of these key stones for great art, you need look no further than simple paint chips – but wait, I left out the most important rule – never trust your eyes when it comes to color!

What do you see below?

paint chip portrait detail by Peter Combe via

Here is what my paint program sees…

my screenview of the same image (above) by Peter Combe via Serif

Serif software or Photoshop for that matter,  see through none of the prejudices that burden the human brain, pitting the left side against the right in functions that relate to perception. Serif sees the mosaic above clearly as the detail of a face.

The human brain, which relies on preconception as opposed to perception requires a great deal more information to draw the same conclusion.

Paint Chip Portrait by

Ok, now that you get the picture (OK, I’ll stop) what does this do for you or for your design?

Learning to see is step 1 – when you can do this, the sky is the limit. It’s like the Wizard of Oz – what do color gurus have that you haven’t got?


Take the new Pantone palettes for example. Rugged Individuals is sold to the market as an ode to a contemporized old West….

Rugged Individuals Pantone Color Palette

image via Pantone Home + Interiors 2013 Color Forecast Webinar

This is a preconception.

Deconstruct their story and write your own – just close your eyes and go with your first impression. Rugged Individuals reminds me of an Italian Villa by the sea….

What? You don’t see it? Look again….

Rugged Individuals by the Italian sea

Try the same vision with Out of The Ordinary colors…

Out of the Ordinary doesn’t even begin to describe the color here…Italian sea image via

But your story does not need to be International to be compelling!

Look what I did with Valspar colors…

Most of the pixels in this image are recolored individually with the Valspar paint color selections. (and yes, this is a pretty disturbed preoccupation). I did not entirely finish, but I got far enough to say that the color collection is pretty comprehensive and to illustrate my points….

With the Valspar color palettes, depth of color is a cinch!

Venus and Adonis, Jacopo Amigoni – image via schloesser-schleissheimde

Pick a palette that you respond to – it can be anything you love. Pull out the colors that work for you, and omit the ones you’re not sure of…


Just put up some paint chips on the wall, and close yours eyes….

paintchipwallart1-apartment therapy