Monday, July 28, 2008

Complementary Colour Scheme, Part IV of a Series

Complimentary Colour Schemes

Complementary colour schemes are easy to use and are very useful for creating highlights or areas of interest within a painting. They involve using two colours that are directly opposite each other on the colour wheel. The primary colour compliments are as follows:

Red -- Green
Blue -- Orange
Yellow -- Purple

Of course there are many ways to increase the variety of the system. A tint of a colour (that colour mixed with white) or a shade of a colour (the colour mixed with black) can be used in the scheme. Pink is a tint of red, and goes with light greens with nice effect. Imagine sweet pea against light green leaves. The photo above, courtesy of illustrates the combination of these colours. Complimentary colour schemes usually have one colour as the main or dominant and the other as the focal point or subordinant colour. The sparing use of the non-dominant colour allows the eye to immediately travel to the location where it is placed. If the complimentary colours are beside each other and both of intense value, then a high contrast can be created. This colour scheme by it's very nature creates such high contrast situations.

The photo below of geraniums is another example, red being the focal point, amid a more plentiful green background. Variety occurs from all the tints and shades present among the colours, and also there are slighty different tones of red or green, if examined closely. The intensity of the red, amid the complimentary green which is more muted in intensity, ensures the flower heads are where the eye is drawn.

Generally, the best effects occur where one of the colours is warm and the other is cool, blue and orange. Here is another example from VanGogh. Cafe in Arles at night. I have included two slightly different versions to illustrate the effect of colour intensity. Which do you prefer? The variation in intensity certainly alters the scene.

That's it for now. To see previous information regarding colour here are the links, monochromatic and analagous colour scheme, mixing neutral and semi-neutral colours, choosing a palette for painting. Enjoy exploring this ever-growing blog of art information, and my paintings too! You can see my next step-by step demonstration coming online over the next two weeks, so be sure to check in as I progress it. And if you like my art, be sure to share the blog with others. Thanks.

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