So, when you’re planning to bind a book, it’s easiest and most economical to work with full sheets so that you don’t have to cut paper. But, the sheets don’t always, or rather: hardly ever, in fact, have an ideal size for the purpose, so sometimes you have to cut them to the right size. What to do with the leftover bands of paper?

I use them as color samples mostly. And when it’s only an average or lesser quality paper, I’ll use them individually and throw them away when I don’t need them anymore. But, what a shame of doing that with good quality watercolor paper! So, what I do, is use them to  make color-sample books. Usually I find some scrap greyboard to make my covers from, or I’ll use the back of my watercolor blocks, or I’ll cut cardboard boxes even. The covers above are made from the back of a watercolor block, covered with mesh, adorned with little wood hearts I found and a few clay ornaments, painted with bronze acrylics and then glazed with purple…it’s got a wonderful kitsch sheen to it which my camera didn’t pick up very well, unfortunately.

The interior of the book I use for one brand of color material only…I always start out with a color chart of ALL the colors I own of that brand. Most times  I look up on the internet how many colors this brand has and draw that many empty squares under which I write numbers and names of the colors. Then I fill up the squares of the colors that I own. That way I can always add more colors when I buy them. A fab way of having a good overview of the assortment!

Then I use that one brand only to make color combinations. Initially single colours only. To see how they work out together. Quite important to me because I’ve rather a mind of my own and I will hardly ever buy a standard palette of colors…I will always pick the ones I LIKE most!!! Quite silly sometimes, because at home I may find out I really did need that ugly umber…hehe. But I’ll add those colors later. I always start out with my favorites. Working them into a color book is a really nice way to see what they do and how they interact. It’s a bit like Kuler in your own little book, made of leftovers…

So, if you ever have some scrap leftover paper bands, don’t throw them away…they can make you a wonderful little color-sample book! You can use Kuler or design and fashion websites to be inspired for your color samples.

If you’re interested in the watercolor brand I used for this color-sample book; it is Old Holland. I think it is the best brand of watercolor together with Schmincke Horadam. They both have extremely fine pigmentation and the colors of both brands remain brightest of ALL watercolor brands. (And I know because I was curious enough to try them ALL!) Schmincke colors are more transparant than Old Holland colors. They have more of a watercolor feel to them. Old Holland colors are unbelievably intense and sometimes give a more inky feel. But I love them both!!! They’re equally good but each have their own character on paper. For painting purposes I’d advise Schmincke Horadam. For illustration purposes I’d advise Old Holland.

By the way, Schmincke offers a really interesting color chart online in which they describe very well how the colors are composed and what the colors are best used for. It also gives useful information about pigments. Information that comes in handy when buying ANY brand! Incredibly handy when you’re not sure which colors to choose! You can also order this color brochure for free from Schmincke and they’ll send it to your snailmailbox!

For those who don’t want to buy paint in this high price range (although it really IS worth it, I promise…just start out with one, your favorite color and you’ll see!), there’s a surprisingly good alternative: Winsor and Newton’s Cotman. It’s got bright colors that remain bright and it works incredibly well on your palette after it’s dried. So it’s very economical. This in contrast to the Winsor and Newton’s Artists’ watercolor. I really don’t like that AT ALL!!! Once it’s dried up on your palette, it’s hard to pick it back up on your brush again. And the colors…neh. I don’t like them…they’re not very intense at all and I have found out they don’t remain as bright as the other two top-quality brands. Cotman, though, DOES remain bright! That is because they use stronger chemical pigments for the colors. Pigments that don’t change much under the influence of oxygen, acids and light. So…if you don’t want to spend too much money, Cotman is my advice! And the tubes are so large, they will last you half a lifetime. At least!