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.

Denton, TX

“Take a Picture, it Will Last Longer,” by Stephanie Khattak. Watercolors and custom pigments.

We recently took a day trip to Denton, Texas which is about 45 minutes from where we live, and where I went to college. The town has changed so much since those days, so when I’m there it feels like I’m visiting somewhere new.

Photography ended up being the theme of the day – something that happens a lot when you’re traveling with a photographer!

Art: The reason for our trip was to check out Jason Lee’s photo exhibition, “A Plain View,” at the Greater Denton Arts Council. We enjoyed the timeless look of the photos, and the large-format prints really drew in the viewer and created a sense of place. While we were at the gallery, we also saw Colby Parsons’ “Structured Light” ceramics sculpture exhibit, which was very cool.

We also visited Scrap Denton, an innovative concept store and nonprofit that sells donated low-cost art materials. We saw everything from vintage Kodak retouching kits to high-end paints that were barely used. The prices are similar to Goodwill’s, so it seems like a great resource for students who need affordable supplies for their classes, and professional artists as well.

A trip to Denton isn’t complete without a stop at the Denton Camera Exchange. James would go there every weekend if he could. It’s a great resource, not only for the wide variety of interesting cameras and lenses they carry, but because the staff is very professional and friendly. He learns something new with each visit.

When I lived in Denton, our only art store was a Michael’s. So all of this is very exciting to me!

Books: Recycled Books, Records & CDs, off the square, is housed in an old opera house, and offers many interesting options for second-hand and rare books and music. You’ll want to budget significant time to peruse all of the shelves, but it will be time well spent.

Coffee: West Oak Coffee Bar is a modern space with delicious coffee, conveniently located on the square and walking distance to most things on this list.