assembling a palette

assembling a palette
alabama chanin


Do artists “make up” a palette, “create” a palette, choose a palette deliberately and with great forethought, or do they perhaps conjure one up? I’m not sure what the proper term is, but I am sure someone will tell me soon, and in the meantime, I’m assembling a palette, a moodboard focused on color.

Art, of course, is a great place to start if one wants to assemble a palette. The Rothko painting above, like a collection of swatches, started things for me.

Then, right around St. Valentine’s day, I became crazy for the color chocolate, chocolate-brown was everywhere, from the magazines

to the pastry shops, and it was looking very good to me. So, as I do, I started posting browns on my Instagram feed, and the more I did, the better I liked the color. And I’d like to think, the better I began to understand it and appreciate the variations in the color brown. 

Let’s face it, brown can be blah, but none of these browns, all from Max Mara, look blah to me, they look yummy.

I’ve never before thought of doing this, making up my own palette. But since I’ve become more and more interested in color, at least theoretically, I’m going to assemble a palette and then try to make and find things staying true to that palette. 

I’ll let it evolve, I’ll let colors fade and intensify, I may drop one that was added in a frenzy of optimism, but I will try to stay true to my original mood. I’m going to go with what I’m attracted to, at first glance. 

I’ll allow myself to fall in love, and I’ll just let myself go.

I’ll try not to be overly influenced by what is currently out there, in the stores, magazines etc, and that of course will be hard, because this is what I do, collect things. How do you try to see things, pick and choose, without being influenced by that which is already chosen for you? 

The taste-makers, the influencers, after all, have always been out there.

That’s why it’s erroneous to think that one is not influenced by fashion. Unless you dress in all denim, all of the time, whether you like it or not, you are. 

My palette, so far, has obviously been influenced by my trip to the Guggenheim to see Hilma af Klint, and the Rothko I saw on a friend’s Instagram feed. It may also be a “riff” on “living coral.” 

Add this scrap of silk, from Fab Scrap, and I’m on my way.

Please tell me this is not mauve, I hate mauve. Tell me instead that it’s pink, fuchsia, or anything else.

Have you ever noticed that mauve has become an “institution color?” “Institutional mauve.”

It seems especially to be a color for old people, so someone thinks anyway. Is that because it’s supposed to be mood uplifting or “peaceful?” What’s the theory here? 

Pink and brown, of course, is a “classic” combo, so I’m not going to pretend to come up with something new, I’m looking to add something in, something maybe a little unexpected. 

*If anyone is interested in going on this little journey of color with me, let me know and we can share the results with other readers.

alabama chanin

Oh here’s something! From my inbox just this morning, “leisure wear” from Alabama Chanin. Not just any leisure wear but sweatshirts, tanks, slips, robes, and more, in 100% organic cotton and made in the U.S.A. 

I don’t think you can get any better than this, you can’t. 

The colors are muted, but deep and restful. If you’ve never bought yourself anything made of 100% organic cotton, here’s your opportunity to treat yourself. And if you want to understand why it’s simply better than conventionally grown cotton, in so many ways, go here.

If you don’t know who Alabama Chanin is you can read what I’ve written about them before, here.

Better yet, read this intriguing and inspiring article, from The Bitter Southerner, about Alabama Chanin and the place it has risen from.

An excerpt:

For most of us, thread is something we think about only when it breaks — a lost shirt button, a ripped hem, a dangling end waiting to be trimmed. But for Natalie Chanin, thread is the tie that binds her to Southern textiles and to the relatives who worked at Florence’s Sweetwater Mill during the industry’s heyday.”


“A society based on artists could be trouble, but a society without artists could be really horrifying.”

—Ai Weiwei




  • Leslie says:

    Johannes Itten (of the Bauhaus movement) believed that every person has a personal palette. And when artists painted from their own palettes their work was magical.

    This is, perhaps, why you thought of me when you saw Hilma af Klint’s work (and other of my friends also thought of me when they saw her work) — I share that same palette. And you, possibly, may as well.

  • Mary says:

    I too have recently become much more interested in color (maybe because of gray February) and in finding colors I feel more alive and energetic wearing. I really like your chocolates, navy, caramel, and — NOT mauve — raspberry?

  • Love your scrap of silk. I think that was a Pantone color of the year a few years ago. I bought a small Tory Burch coin/bill purse in pony hair that shade. I’ve stuffed it into every bag I have and carried it daily so it’s beginning to look a bit beaten up on the edges. xoxo, Brenda

  • Haralee says:

    Chocolate brown is a great color. So warm and I think attractive on many women.

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