color charts on linen & an art giveaway

by | Feb 27, 2020 | Art, Artistic Endeavors, Oil Painting | 222 comments

I was checking my DMs on Instagram and saw that one of my followers had forwarded a post to me.  She had a feeling I would like it and she was absolutely right.  My jaw dropped and I clicked on the link quickly to learn more about these beautiful swatches of color painted on linen.  Were they, by chance, for sale?!

This is the post that got my heart fluttering…

Cathleen of @815vintagegoods found these amazing color charts at an estate sale.   Unfortunately, they were already spoken for, but I knew immediately I wanted to try to replicate them.  I had never seen color charts on natural linen – only on a bright white surface like a gessoed canvas or oil paper.  Those are pretty, too, but the linen is yummy!

Not only do I love the look of the colored squares on linen, but creating the charts on a mid-tone substrate makes a lot more sense, since I’m usually painting on a toned canvas.  (A toned canvas is one that has a thin wash of color on it to make it mid-tone.)

I found my mind wandering to how these were made.  Was a clear gesso applied to the linen first?  Or was the paint just applied directly to the linen?  Would the oil bleed in that case?

I decided I was going to experiment and try to discover the process, so I can recreate it.

I dug around in my fabric stash to see what I had.  I pulled out some scraps of antique linen grain sacks that I bought years ago and used for an upholstery project.  The shade of the linen was perfect.  Now, I had to figure out what to do with it!

I decided to cut two pieces and clip them onto scraps of MDF with bull clips.  If this idea works, I can attach them to the boards with my upholstery staple gun.  I used clear gesso on one and left the other unprimed to see which method worked better…

I then taped off a grid with 1/4″ masking tape.  I usually measure when I make color charts, but I was just playing, so I eye-balled it.  Measuring devices don’t come out when I’m playing.

I mixed and applied colors with a palette knife to make a thick square of paint. I usually have a method when I’m making color charts, but I just did little color studies with Indigo and Bice, both blues.

The Indigo study was the one that was gessoed.  The paint definitely sat up on the fabric better, but the tape didn’t stick to the gesso as well, so there was more bleeding under the tape.

For the Bice study, I applied the paint directly to the raw linen…

The tape stuck better, but the fabric definitely absorbed a good amount of paint.  The fibers also made smearing the paint on a little more challenging.

I need to try a few more experiments before I decide which way is my favorite.  I also ordered some clear-primed linen panels and a pad, so I’ll compare those to my antique linen fabric as well.

As I allowed myself this creative playtime, I got an idea (which is often what happens)…  Why not create little color studies on antique linen with leftover paints on my palette?  These really are little pieces of art by themselves and I think people would be interested in buying them.  I’ll have to play around with that idea and see if it works.

I love it when one little bit of inspiration can be a jumping-off point for all sorts of new ideas.

And, I’m excited to introduce you to a very talented young watercolor/acrylic artist – Amelia Polder.  She is a part of the Polder family (as in Polder’s Old World Market) and started her own Etsy shop to sell her art.  I really admire how industrious, artistic, and entrepreneurial that whole family is!

I’ve been following her on Instagram for a while and, in our conversations, she offered to give away a print of her original art to one of my readers.  This is the print that the winner will receive…

There are two ways to enter…

Visit Amelia’s Etsy shop and leave a comment here letting me know what your favorite painting is…


Follow Amelia on Instagram and leave a comment here letting me know you did.

If you want two chances to win, you can do both and leave a comment for each.  The giveaway will run through Monday, March 2, 2020, and a winner will be randomly chosen and announced that week.

Good luck!


  1. Kara

    Love the watercolors! The spring ones make me happy!

  2. Marla Boren

    Amelia is so talented! I enjoyed viewing all of her work. My favorite is ” White and Yellow Poppies”.

  3. Cheryl

    I really love all the paintings especially the seaside painting. Very Talented!

  4. Kim V

    All of her work is beautiful! So calming and peaceful! But as of recently, I’m drawn to the water colors! Swoon!

    • Kim V

      PS I’m following Amelia! Thank you!

  5. Monica

    I love any of the watercolors and the winter cabin painting was a favorite of mine.

    • Monica

      PS – I’m following Amelia too

  6. Bev

    I love amelia’s seaside art/ home painting on her Etsy page and I did also choose to follow her Instagram .thank you!


    I love the Seaside Painting.

  8. Becca P

    I already follow Amelia and the rest of her family on Instagram! I think the way they all work together is #goals. My favorite art of hers is the little girls cuddling critters (a bunny and a chicken)…so sweet!

  9. Lynn U

    Visited the etsy shop. I like the mediterranean seaside painting.

  10. Suzanne OMullan

    I wonder if you put the tape down first – then gesso the little squares – after dried – apply the paint…. thinking this might be the best of both worlds!!!! xoxoxo!

  11. Rosalina Garcia

    Love the Sailboat painting, love the vibrant colors. I live near the ocean.

  12. Sharon

    All of Amelia’s paintings are lovely but the one with the dolphins is definitely my favorite. I’m glad you introduced us to her!

  13. Becky Anderson

    My favorite is the “Sailboat” painting. I’ve also followed Amelia on Instagram.

  14. Janine Allen

    I like the Seaside Painting. It reminds me of trips to Italy & France. Your paint swatches look like fun!



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Marian Parsons - Miss Mustard Seed

I’m Marian, aka Miss Mustard Seed, a wife, mother, paint enthusiast, lover of all things home and an entrepreneur, author, artist, designer, freelance writer & photographer.  READ MORE to learn more about me, my blog and my business…


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