One of my goals this year is to really play with color and develop sets of color palettes throughout the year. I decided to start that project by looking at summer color palettes.

lemons and oranges on a plate with a light blue background and pink watch next to them

When I was thinking about inspiration for this project, I knew I needed to focus on heat, fruit, and beaches. Also, you know that wiggly aura thing that seems to surround the summer at its hottest? I tried to find some images that would convey that too.

The Beach

teal ocean water washing up in a white foam on a brown sandy beach

summer photo by twenty20photos on Envato Elements

The beach is my favorite place. If I’m not throwing a handful of bathing suits into a suitcase, I’m really not going on vacation. I love the grit and salt of it all, so it makes sense to start here. What really struck me about this image was how the teal and brown are almost complementary and are divided by the foam of the water. I was definitely vibing when I worked on this one. And here are the results:

6 color chips in teal, brown, white, and cream

I promise I didn’t cheat, but look at the names of some of these colors: sea glass, shell, Aruba. Definitely colors made for summer. Combine those with gold, bleached white, and cypress, and I can practically smell the salt!

The Breakfast

pink bowl of strawberries and kiwis surrounded by fresh fruit, nuts, and a spoon

summer photo by twenty20photos on Envato Elements

We’re lucky enough to be surrounded by a lot of really good farmers’ markets, and I love seeing the fruits come into season. My summer breakfasts usually have a lot of fruit in them, and I loved this strawberry cereal image. There’s so much color happening in this.

six color chips with pink, green and brown

Gold is back for this summer color palette, and it’s joined by rich red, petal, Bellini, sour apple, and honey dew. Again, the color names show these colors were meant for summer. I really liked how the gold – from the nuts and kiwi skin – bring an earthy feel to this set.

The Flower Pot

rainbow flower pot with blue flowers

summer photo by twenty20photos on Envato Elements

We just planted our garden last month, and I would love to have this pot in my collection. I love a good rainbow!

six color chips in pink, red, orange, yellow, green, and blue

I like this one because it has a really nice mix of hot and cold. Clover and pacific do a good job balancing bright pink, flame, kumquat, and sunny. Again, those summer names!

The Lemons (with a Twist)

lemons on a plate with a yellow towel and hat and a pink watch laying next to them

summer photo by 918Evgenij on Envato Elements

These lemons and oranges still bring the heat, but they do it in a more subtle way. I was really taken by the splash of pink in the wristwatch.

six color chips with three shades of yellow, pink, cream, and gray

I really struggle with doing gradients of yellow, so I’m really happy that this turned out the way it did. Pop in a little ballerina with white and iron, and I think this is a neat set.

The Sandy Playground

beach ball and different colored flip flops stuck in the sand

summer photo from Body & Soul Health and Fitness

This one is my favorite because it’s everything that a good summer is to me: sand, water, and flip flops. This is the image that has that shimmery “heat” glow to it that I just love about hot weather. I had the most fun putting this summer color palette together.

six color chips in red, teal, yellow, sand, blue, and charcoal

Pool, citrus, poppy, and wheat are beautiful together, and I love how blueprint and Gotham grey anchor them. I have so many ideas for quilts with this one.

Speaking of which, I’m planning on taking my favorites from these exercises and making quilt blocks for them. At the end of the year, I’ll see what I have and put together a very Playful Color quilt. Follow me over on Instagram if you want to see my progress with that project.