Winter 2018
TRY Studio Stories
Meet Amanda

Name: Amanda Hinton
Location: Berkeley, CA
Art/Craft/Discipline: watercolor (paint and painting)

Paintmaker going the extra mile on everything she does.

Intro by Jennifer Arzt
Paintmaker. Creative businesswoman. Extraordinary.
Alchemist Embracing Serendipity
Meet Amanda
Berkeley, California

While it’s hard to put Amanda into words, it is easy to be in awe of her. 

Simply put, Amanda makes watercolor paints, from scratch (that includes 3d printing the pans for them, too!) in Berkeley, California. 

Trying to elaborate on her requires you to decide which of her skills to talk about first, and that’s where it gets tricky.

(Start with her creativity? Yeah, but does that do her thirst for knowledge justice? How about start with her dedication? Okay, but does that highlight her positive, collaborative attitude? Fine then how about her devotion to the details? Sigh. Then you won’t know about her mastery of big-picture planning.)

When we first met, we had a chance to swap our maker stories. She told me that she recently left a dream job at an Oakland institution, The Crucible, to expand her paint making business, Limn Colors. 

I was impressed but not nearly as much as I would be in a few weeks when I had a chance to visit her studio and learn the process of making watercolor paints, and Amanda’s spin on it. 

Making paint is both an art and a science. There are centuries of study to pull from in order to make your own but there’s also an art to it. Each pigment is different so she has to learn how each one responds in order to maximize its potential. 

Watercolor painting, to me at least, has always been an exercise in relinquishing control. But after just a few minutes listening to Amanda, I realized that I’ve been so very wrong about it. Forever. 

Sure there is some beauty in letting things go where they will, but if you understand your tools—the paints, paper, brushes, and water—then you can control the chaos. The happy accidents that you fall in love with can be duplicated and added to your tool chest. 

That knowledge is what makes results repeatable. And, repeatable results are what separates the novice from the master. 

If you’ve ever wanted a deeper understanding of color mixing, watercolor tools and materials, or a lesson in creating textures sign up for a private lesson.

Amanda is a grand example of how study, creativity, and dedication mix into a beautiful palette. 

You can learn more about her paints at

Read on
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· How did you get started working in this area? ·

I’ve done a lot of hand lettering in my sketchbook or notes, and have a deep affection for art supplies and office supplies. I got curious about how to make ink for my fountain pens and ended up reading about how paint is made. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I worked with a pigment distributor, then bought all the paintmaking supplies and began building my formulas.

Though I hadn’t painted in a long time, I had been working in visual communication and taking art classes for fun - metalsmithing, enameling, glass flameworking, color theory, drawing, graphic design, printmaking, and painting. I spend a lot of time watching videos and reading books to build skills and understand tools or material properties. I am fascinated by both the techniques and materials themselves, as well as their history and context in art. Limn Colors is a culmination of all of my professional skills and artistic interests.

· Where do you find inspiration for your work? ·

I get a lot of inspiration in reading about the pigments and materials that people have been painting with for the last 400,000 years. And Instagram lets me see what painters, hand letterers, and artists are making today. Sometimes I stumble on a pigment and have to see how it works and other times I go looking for a color because of an artwork or object I saw.

· What’s a project you’ve done that you’re proud of? ·

Everything related to starting and running a business, from creating products to operational processes to marketing content. I’m thrilled to see the art that people create with my paint!

· What tools do you use? Have a favorite? ·

I love my big glass workbench. I am obsessed with pigments. My mullers and growing collection of palette knives are indispensible to my paintmaking process. Plus, no scrimping on the safety gear!

Most frequently, I paint with Limn Colors watercolor paint on Arches paper blocks with Escoda brushes. I love trying out new supplies and experimenting with other tools and materials to create surface textures or alter the way the paint behaves. I spend much more time experimenting with color and paint effects than I do actually painting identifiable subject matter.

· What’s your workspace like? ·

The Limn Colors studio is a small, colorful space in West Berkeley. There is a large workbench for mulling paint, a table for working and one-on-one instruction, a metalsmithing bench, and a large collection of pigments, paint tools, and creative supplies. A mini-gallery displays recent paintings and swatch cards for all of our paint colors. We also have a home office where we 3d print our containers and take care of business operations.

· Favorite local spot? ·

I love the SFMoMA, Berkeley Bowl, The Crucible, and all the local art supply stores like Flax, Artist & Craftsman Supply, and ARCH.  

· What music do you work to? ·

It’s often quiet if I need to concentrate on what I am doing. Otherwise, the mood dictates the music and I have a little bit of everything on my phone. Sometimes I listen to white noise while I write or catch up on Netflix while I am mulling paint.

· What have you always wanted to try? ·

Always? The Grand Tour.

Right now? Pointed pen calligraphy, taking my DSLR off auto, a kolinsky sable brush, deep sea fishing, flameworking a glass dip pen, The French Laundry, and medieval illumination.

Plus, I am always trying to paint more, to write more, to cook more, to read more, to see friends more, and to get more sleep.

· What kind of projects can people try with you? ·
Amanda's Studio / LIMN Colors
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