The best part of any new project is the “new” part.

Excitement. Possibilities. Ideas. But where to start?

Some projects just have to start with color.

When I can leave the studio, I often head over to my local Paper Source store. Getting out into fresh air will kick-start any creative effort. Making your destination a date with your inner muse turns an outing into a business NECESSITY.

Paper Source feeds my creative needs with an explosion of color, pattern, and texture. It’s a full-on sensory experience, with their wall of beautiful handmade papers, and an atmosphere infused with base notes of ink and glue, topped off with visual bursts of beautiful packaging, racks of ribbons, and exotic tools.

African Daisies, photo by Mary Lester

Color inspiration can come from just about anywhere, including these African daisies that grow in my garden.

When I don’t have time for an outdoor excursion, I turn to my personal collections of paper samples, magazine clippings, wrapping paper swatches, and books.

I collect books about my favorite subjects, which happen to include images of bouquets, patterns, design, and color. A current favorite is Paula Pryke’s Decorating With Flowers. Her website is a color feast as well. Even photos from my own garden can inspire a palette for a project.

Online, I scan sites like The Amazing Pattern Library, Darling Clementine, and Print & Pattern. Any of designer Jessica Jones’ links, like the fabric design page on her blog How About Orange, will inspire.

Searching for “color” on Pinterest can sweep you away for an entire afternoon of color-binging. Type in something more specific, like “lime,” and you’ll be amazed at the collections revealed to you.

All of these explorations lead me back to my Pantone color chip collection, allowing me to capture just the right tonal nuance.

From there, I begin the translation of my perfect palette into CMYK, RGB, and Hex codes. Digital tools will push and pull each color. My monitor, your smartphone, and the backlit screens at the mall kiosk will translate each hue uniquely. We surrender our palettes to the universe and accept the digital transformations that are fed back to our eyes.

With luck, and a bit of grace, the colors will still speak to each of us with vibrancy, emotion, and magic.

Posted by: Mary Lester

Contributing author Mary Lester leverages her deep experience with storytelling, design excellence, multi-platform publishing, and technology-focused content to help leading-edge businesses meet the challenges of today's rapidly changing media industry.