Every color has a story. CJ Volk is the storyteller.

The creator of Citron Paint blends her gorgeous shades based on the memories of her favorite things. Her grandmother inspired Lala’s Laugh while the love affair with her husband helped create Steamy Romance. For Volk, her passion for color intertwines with a deep passion for life’s most precious moments.

The successful artist didn’t plan on starting a paint line. Her business was born out of need. Creating a color called Butterscotch became the catalyst that would change her life. During an interior design project, Volk couldn’t find the creamy color she needed. After painting samples that didn’t work multiple times, she decided the only way to get it was to make it herself.

“My first colors were not much better than the first one we used,” says Volk with a laugh. “I went through fourteen gallons of paint, and I would tweak each one between fifteen and twenty-five times trying to get it right. When I finally did, I cried.”

From that moment on, there was no looking back for Volk. She became consumed with creating beautiful colors that no one would be able to buy in stores. The artist eliminated the use of blacks and greys to create a more multi-dimensional tone. Soon it was an obsession.

“It was like the whole world opened up,” explains the mother of three. “I just went crazy. I had a way to make colors better. I was completely off the diving board of sanity and straight into nuts, nuts, and nuts!”

In the five years since starting this fantastic expedition, Volk has managed to garner a unique way of relating color to the human experience. Her master’s degree in physiology allows her to understand how the brain interprets color and contrast.

“How your brain sees and reads color is all about contrast,” explains Volk, her voice taking on a somewhat more serious tone. “Red and white are the highest and most alerting color combination. Such high contrast is rarely found in nature because it always signals danger. The idea for me is to create flow with color, as seen in nature.”

Of course, Volk also understands the importance light plays in regards to color. She paints her different shades based on where the light falls the most. Light-reflecting walls – such as those across from a window – are always painted lighter. The walls on the sides of the windows can be painted a bit darker because they are in shadow.

“One thing that I learned early on is that most people are addicted to light. Any light coming into a room, you want to keep in the space. Light brings light.”

Citron Paint’s eighty-eight colors can each be used to draw attention and light into any space. While her paint line is breath-taking, Volk feels her business has a responsibility that goes beyond just color.

Volk says the conventional paint industry adds to consumer’s failure. She says people start so excited about painting then walk into a paint store, see thousands of samples, and get discouraged.

“The samples are ink and not real paint, so of course they aren’t going to look the same on your wall,” says Volk with disgust. “The thing is people think it’s their fault and blame themselves. Would you blame yourself if you bought a frozen lasagna, brought it home and discovered it was macaroni and cheese? It’s the same thing.”

Volk prides herself in building people’s self-confidence. She wants her clients to feel capable of picking beautiful colors for their home.

“What breaks my heart is when people think they aren’t good enough to pick paint colors themselves,” begins Volk, her voice bursting with enthusiasm. “What people need are gorgeous colors to choose from and an experienced guide. The more experience a guide has had, the more easily she takes you to the color that you love and not the one she loves. My joy is helping them get to the yummy parts.”

Meanwhile, Volk is just getting to the yummy part of her life story. With her business thriving and her family life fulfilling, the artist says life doesn’t get any better than this.

“I have been very blessed. Citron Paint was truly born out of my heart. I started mixing paint out of my garage, and now I feel like this is the best job in the world. My mission is to make beauty and light meet people’s needs. I feel so lucky.”

Feature Image Credit: Citron Paint

Read Time: 3 min