Get Yourself an Eyeful of These Color Charts

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Color charts. Am I right, artists? There is nothing so gloriously, heart-poundingly, deliciously inspiring to a creative person who works with color as a color chart.

Take a scroll down the page, and if your breath doesn’t catch, and your eyes don’t widen, you likely won’t get much from this post. But if you immediately start pinning every color chart and swatch on here, and then get lost in staring at all the pretty colors, appreciating how they are organized, picking out your favorites, you are a true color chartarian. Term. Coined.

Artist Color Charts

From ceramic glazes to inks to paints, this roundup of color charts are some of my favorites. I declined to add textile color charts and swatches here, because that is coming in another post. They just feel different than these, somehow.

Oooooh yes, this wall of ceramic glass color swatches from Jill Rosenwald. During my ceramics college days, I remember being in love with the glaze sample wall, and spent so much time with all the beautiful glaze colors, just appreciating their beauty.

ceramic swatch color charts hanging on a wall

This Risograph color chart from Fred Aldous is sold out, but shows the unique style and colors of Riso Printing.

Risograph poster color charts

An old paint color chart from Duresco – King of Water Paints as seen on Present & Correct, pretty much the coolest shop ever in the whole world. Can’t you almost feel the chalky matte paperiness of these colors? And the color of the background paper is perfect with them.

paint color chart from Duresco

Ahhh these French silk color cards from The Design Center at Philadelphia University. I bet they smell old. But damn, look at that pink sing next to that yellow.

Colour Index by Margret Heodgaard. I keep fat popsicle stick swatches of my paint colors, too, and I’m having major jealousy pangs for these. I want all of these colors of paints, already mixed up for me and in adorable jars, set out on a perfectly scrubbed vintage pine table, with 30 paintbrushes and a large stack of thick, gessoed paper.

popsicle sticks as color chart for mixing paint colors

A selection of scrumptious pink ceramic glazes from HB Classics. Don’t you love the watery pink one that’s 2 up on the left? That is a fine crackle on the bottom as well.

ceramic color swatches in pinks

A tantalizing page from the Book Hello Color by Rachel Mae Smith of The Crafted Life. Oh, nuts. I think I lied about not including fabric swatches in here. My bad, I thought these were paper. Sorry I said my bad. Not sorry about saying oh, nuts.

color chart pieces taped to a wall

A mouth-watering, hand-created color chart by Sir Theodore de Mayerne, who turns out to be a fascinating person. Besides being the “most expensive doctor in London” in the early 17th century, he studied chemistry and was fascinated with colors.

In fact, he gathered information straight from many top artists of the day, including Peter Paul Rubens!

“Contemporaries remarked upon, and several likenesses bear witness to, Mayerne’s corpulence.  Accounts relate that he did not eat regular meals, but preferred to graze whenever he fancied at a table that was kept well-stocked for this purpose.  He died at his home in Chelsea aged eighty-two on 22nd March 1655, apparently as a consequence of drinking bad wine.” Ah, I love the word corpulent! read more about him here.

And then there was A. Boogert. I found out about this fella on Colossal, and couldn’t get enough of these pages and pages of color swatches. All of them hand-painted, almost 800 pages of glorious colors and color-mixing tips.

You can now buy prints of some of these color charts here, as well as 3 versions of color compilations!

book pages of color charts

Winsor & Newton color chart from 1887 – I’m super glad I don’t have to smell these. In fact my eyes just started running at the sight of the mold on the charts. Anyway. These are really pretty – and they are from 1887. That’s 135 freaking years old.

Moving on, we have this delightful color chart created to document the colors of nature. I’m partial to the breast of the Emerald crested Manakin, which shares its color with the Grape Hyacinth, Gentian, and blue copper ore.

Abraham Gottlob Werner’s 19th-century book, Nomenclature of Colours is available as a book on Amazon. There’s also a cutey-cute postcard set that I imagine you should write on using the style of script below.

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