top of page

3 Reasons To Make Your Own Paint Swatch Library

Updated: Dec 23, 2019

Today, I am so honored to share a special guest, Susan Chiang, from @susanchiang_ on Instagram or her website: Susan and I first met when I purchased her Stamp Swatch kit and fell in LOVE with it. It was such a relief to find a swatch stamp template that gave me the information I needed when testing a paint and it is so easy to use and the size is perfect! Today Susan is going to share with you the benefits in making your own swatch library. Please enjoy, I know I have!

Hi! I’m so happy and honored to be here guest posting on Stakiwi Colours blog. It is no secret that I fell in love with Stacey’s handmade watercolors after buying and testing out Cinder Rose!

She was the first EVER handmade paint-maker I purchased from!

I even wrote all about her paints and recorded a video swatching them. In the video, I share paint swatching on small pre-stamped cards. These little swatch cards are how Stacey and I met!

We share a love of paints and swatching our colors so if you haven’t gotten into building your own swatch library yet, I’m going to be sharing 3 reasons why you might want to make your own!

Reason #1: To Get To Know Your Paints

When I started swatching my paints, this was the main reason I did it. I was new to watercolors, I had some paints, and I saw other people swatching them and noting all the paint characteristics. At the time it all felt very technical, and since I didn’t know any better I figured I had better learn about these things, too.

I made over 80 hand-drawn 2x2 swatch cards. Swatched all the colors and noted things like:

  • Pigment name + manufacturer

  • Pigment numbers used in the paint

  • Granulating color (yes/no)

  • Opacity

  • Lightfastness

  • Staining (yes/no)

In a way, I got to know my paints more technically (even though I don’t have any of it memorized). But what I realized it allowed me to do was to get to know them in the most important way. It helped me determine whether or not I enjoyed painting with the paints!

Once you swatch enough colors you really notice that not all paints are created equal. And to me, that is what it means to get to know your paints!

Reason #2: To Relax

To some, swatching colors may seem tedious, but for me it’s really meditative. While I enjoy creating, sometimes I don’t know what I want to make. Or that I just want to paint but without the pressure to create a “thing”. And that’s when I turn to swatching.

Swatching is one of those things you can do while listening to music, an audio, book, or watching tv. It can truly be meditative and allow you to escape to a world of color and paint.

Plus, once you’re done, it’s truly a satisfying feeling to see all your colors on cards.

There is something very relaxing for the mind to complete repetitive tasks sometimes!

Reason #3: To Have A Resource To Reference

You can swatch even if you only own 3 tubes of paint. Swatching doesn’t necessarily mean that you OWN all the colors. For me, more than 50% of my swatches are painted from dot cards and samples I’ve received from friends or with my purchases.

I love swatching them anyways because I can compare colors across brands and experience the paints to help inform my future paint purchasing decisions.

I personally try to be very selective when it comes to adding paints to my collection because I don’t want to get overwhelmed with too many choices of paint colors.

But that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy testing out new colors and trying new paints as I use up my old ones. I found that recently I’ve been looking through all the swatches in my library in order to decide if I want to add any new paints to my collection.

There are so many reasons to create a swatch library! Just a few other ideas that other people do with their swatches:

  • To help build their color palette before painting

  • To showcase their hand-made paints (like Stacey does with Stakiwi Colours!)

To create cheat sheets of “color mixes” they want to remember (see image below!)

I’ve really enjoyed watching my watercolor swatch library grow over time and I’ve been able to keep record of paints from many different brands in many different colors!

And thankfully I no longer hand-draw each card because I turned my swatch design into a stamp and now I can stamp it onto watercolor paper! It’s SO much easier!

If you’re just getting into swatching and want to draw your own, you can see how I make mine here.

If you’re curious about the stamp I made that makes swatching a lot more fun (and less tedious...because who wants to spend time drawing grids…) check out the video here or click here to shop the stamp.

And because I love Stakiwi Colours so much, I created a special coupon code just for her readers.

Use the code: SWATCHSTAKIWI19 for 10% off any stamp purchase!

I hope that this post was helpful and that it inspires you to start your swatch library!

Thanks for reading, and thank you Stacey for having me!


456 views2 comments

Recent Posts

See All


Feb 06, 2020

Oh I get #2 so strongly. My favourite part about getting new paints is that first swatch


Dec 23, 2019

Now this is a smart and fun idea! Here I was thinking Stacey draws all her cards by hand, hehe ;-) Thanks Susan for sharing your thoughts and ideas about swatching. I like the idea of swatching colors like Payne's Gray across brands and find out about their differences. Aloha!

bottom of page