Many people think drawing and coloring are the same thing. "You're an artist - make art!" Well, I believe that drawing and coloring are two completely different skills. It took me until my late 20s to start understanding color. So, it's something I focus on heavily with my students at Hollins University.
The first exercise is identifying your "personal color palette." These are the colors you come back to again and again without even thinking about it. It shows up in your clothes, your decorating, but especially in your art. They are your default colors and they're different for everybody.
I talked about it several years ago at this post when I had first redecorated my office. (It's nowhere near this clean anymore.)
You can see my color palette in the pencils to the right and in my office: lime green, teal, orange, and soft yellow. The chair in the foreground is aqua (it turned out lighter than I intended, but it's still in that same teal family). The bookshelves are orange, as is the lamp. The credenza is lime green (although it's hard to tell in this light) and a matching green filing cabinet now sits at the end of my desk. And the walls are "cornbread yellow."
Want to know what your personal color palette is? A great way to nail this down is to lay all your artwork out before you, squint, and see which three or four colors appear more than the others. Another, easier way to figure this out is with colored pencils.
Here's Rhonda's palette (and yes, this really does look like her and what I always see her in.) And then here's Michelle's. What a lovely palette! (And again, this really does look like her - especially the pinks. I've often noticed her lipstick, nails, purse, and cell phone case are the same shade of pink.
So if you're starting a new project and you're stumped about color, try to employ your personal color palette or elements from it. Work consciously with color instead of simply off the cuff. Once you understand the default patterns you fall into anyway, it can be much easier to then use those patterns to create a direction, style, and intent as you go forward.
So what is your personal color palette?