Tips on Tuesday

Today’s Tip

It’s Tuesday, that means it’s time for an art tip!

Today’s tip is simple, but powerful. Whether I’m painting on a canvas, working in my art journal, or sketching out a piece of jewelry; I like to remember what colors I use by creating a paint reference card. Sometimes it’s because I never want to use that combination again, but most often it’s to remember what created a certain effect. In addition to my studio log, I use blank index cards to keep track of the paints on each piece. These cards provide a quick, visual reference for future work.

Where to store them depends on your organizational style. I know people who keep them in a box with tabs by date, others have stacks in their studio gathered on a key ring. Most of the time, I keep them in my art journal, tucked between the pages of that day. If I go back to reference a specific spread, I have the card right there as a key for my next piece.


I keep it simple and quick when I’m creating these reference cards. Here are the basics:

  1. Date
  2. Splotches of paint you used. Brush them on if you wish. I usually add them when I’m done, before I move my paint palette and return the paints to storage. Did I mention that my acrylics are now organized by color and I LOVE IT!?! (That’s another Tuesday conversation.)
  3. Names and brands or types of paint. This will also help you remember which brands are more translucent or opaque in certain colors. I know, they tell you that in the descriptions, but I like to use it and see it for myself!
  4. Notes about the colors – quick notes for example “worked,” “got lost,” “popped!”

I’d love to hear how you keep track of your color combinations. If you haven’t thought about keeping reference cards, give it a try. It’s been a great addition to my art journaling and painting!