K is for...


'Mere colour can speak to the soul in a thousand ways.' -- Oscar Wilde

A colour kaleidoscope is the focus of today’s project. You are to find colours, not make them, and create colour wheels of them.

This is an exercise to sharpen your senses and make you think about colour in a different way. Colours surround us all the time: we get used to them, we have an affinity for certain ones and dislike others. Colours affect us all. As artists and designers we tend to use some as staple options for art and it can become a bit predictable or stale.

As mentioned, you will not be mixing or making colours. Instead the project involves looking for colours in magazines. You will need two or three magazines to cut up, so maybe use ones that are not too precious or new!

Creative Process

Page through your magazines cutting wedges of colour out of them as you go. Depending on the kind of magazine you might get lots of skin tones if it's a lifestyle or health magazine. A fashion magazine might have brighter colours and interior magazines will reveal more neutral and trending colours. The plan is to find colours and hues in this limited supply of pages. Art directors spend a lot of time planning the outlay of magazines and are up to date with colour trends, so it also gives a deeper insight into colour sensibilities and ideas for combinations.

Look carefully at each image: a page might have one colour room but the lighting and shadows will create subtle hues and depths. Cut out different tones of a colour as found in the different areas, observe carefully. You can have a selection of colours depending on your resources - there might be more neutrals or complimentary colours.

How many shades of grey or depths of blue or green can you find? Mix them up, take photos and make notations as you go. Colour is the focus, a bit of texture or pattern is fine but do not get distracted by them. You can glue the colour wheels in a sketchbook.

What do you feel about colour combinations? Arrange favourite colour wheels, ones you might want to incorporate in your own work. Are there colours you like less? Note how bright and neutral colours affect each other, some work together better than others.

Depending on your interest it might also be an idea to mix up paint to match it with your colour samples.


This is a simple, yet very effective tool to develop your awareness of colours, and refresh your eyes.

© 2020 Esté MacLeod

© 2020 Explore Colour