New Mexico Palette

Custom Paint Palette: Shades of Santa Fe

I recently began making my own paint with gouache binder medium and pigment powders. It’s very rewarding to see the medium and powder combine into the final result, and to be able to personalize the color exactly how I want for any given project.

The ability to make my own custom paint palette inspired me to create specific colors for the places I visit. The mixing supplies are too cumbersome to take on the road with me, so I pack lightweight tools in my artist travel kit, then rely on memory and the sketches I make on the go to recreate the colors once I am back in my studio.

Our recent road trip through West Texas and New Mexico focused mainly on Santa Fe with a day trip up to Taos and the Rio Grande Gorge.  The landscape changed constantly, from the plains and desert conditions of the Texas Panhandle into Santa Fe, to the mountains, evergreen and birch trees as we headed north toward Taos. Just a few miles from Taos, at the gorge, it was flat again. Coming from Dallas where you’ll drive a similar distance and see mostly concrete, this diverse scenery was a special treat to experience.

This inspired me to create the colors shown above: Rio Grande Russet, Adobe Peach, La Posada Plum, Evergreen, Desert Sky, Horizon Blue and Sparkling Shadow.  These colors are made from Earth Pigments and Pearl-Ex, combined with gouache medium. For the painting below, I embellished with gold drawing ink and used an off-the-shelf warm gray watercolor for the background.