The Story of the Colorwheel Palette
Having taught watercolor at Antelope Valley College since 1983 and acknowledging that up to half of each classes' students were absolute beginners to the medium, I always strove to offer clear lessons and basic techniques. I tried recommending various palettes to different classes hoping one would stand out as the best for teaching color mixing theory. Then one afternoon in 1989, during my wife's pregnancy with our first son, I was waiting in our OB/GYN's office, surrounded by very pregnant women (it was a very creative environment!) and I sketched an idea that suddenly came to me. With the excitement and anticipation leading up to the birth of our first son, I promptly forgot the drawing.
Several months later, I returned to the sketch and realized that there was nothing like it in the marketplace. I decided to pursue the idea, creating twenty-some life-size drawings and hiring a mold-maker to create a prototype to test. I worked with a patent attorney to acquire a patent and to trademark the title. Finally I showed it to my friend, Robert E. Wood, who liked the concept and encouraged me to send it to Hunt-Speedball.
I was very pleased when they called to tell me that they wished to go ahead and develop the palette - the second day after they received it! This ultimately led to it's release just before Christmas in 1989. The ColorWheel palette has been welcomed and held a successful position in the marketplace ever since and has been distributed across America and seventy-five countries around the world.
The first principle of the full 21-color base palette is that it is a valuable lesson to arrange artist's pigments in chromatic order. Artists pigments do not conform to the bright, clear and even steps of a printed colorwheel, so - suprisingly - some thought is required to analyze and place them in this order. But once that task is accomplished, the artist has the clearest and most logical color mixing model possible. This model is the one that most artists use while painting, and they see it every time they look into the palette to mix color. Ultimately, the palette can become quite intuitive, almost disappearing from one's awareness and thus allowing for the fullest concentration upon the challenges created within the painting at hand.
The top of the palette is the only primary palette in the world. One of the fastest and surest ways to learn the secrets of color mixing is through the study and use of a primary palette. The ColorWheel's top allows one to identify and separately explore various primary color pigment combinations. The only serious disadvantage to using a primary palette is in all the mixing required to create a painting. The top of the ColorWheel Palette offers an elegant solution to this limitation. One can take three pigments and, by mixing them together in various proportions, create six intermediate steps - or a set of nine mixing colors based upon three pigments. This set of nine colors makes a primary palette virtually as fast and easy to use as a full palette of sixteen to twenty-four pigments!