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Thursday, February 16, 2012

Double the Liveliness of a Painting with this Color Scheme

'Paint the Desert with Purple' 8x10 pastel ©Karen Margulis
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Yes this cactus really does exist. It is a Purple Prickly Pear Cactus and I saw them in Albuquerque, New Mexico last summer. I have been wanting to paint them and needed a way to do them justice. So I consulted my color wheel and decided to focus on the contrast of the complementary colors.
All colors are the friends of their neighbors and the lovers of their opposites. Marc Chagall
A common color scheme to use in a painting is the Complementary Scheme. It is known that using complementary colors next to one another makes them appear more intense. It is also psychologically satisfying for the viewer to see the complementary pairs together. But often we only think of the Primary color pairs of Red & Green, Blue & Orange and Yellow & Purple.

Consulting my Color Wheel

Don't limit yourself to just these common complementary pairs. Look at their neighbors on the color wheel. How about a red-violet and yellow-green pair or blue-violet and yellow-orange pair? I knew the red-violet/yellow-green pair would be perfect for my cactus. I decided to do an underpainting with watercolor using the complements of the final colors. To simplify, I painted anything that would be in the purple family yellow-green and anything that would be yellow was red-violet in the underpainting.

Using a Complementary Underpainting of Red-Violet and Yellow-Green

For the pastel application I decided to kick it up a notch and use a Double Complementary Color Scheme. Using two color neighbors Violet and Red-Violet and their complements yellow and yellow-green adds more variety and even more balance, liveliness and satisfaction than if I only used one complementary pair. So if you like to use compliments in your work think about inviting the neighbors!
Read more about using complementary colors in an underpainting HERE


shelley m. house said...

"Invite the neighbors." That's so catchy! The best tips are the ones I can remember. Thanks Karen!

Karen said...

Thanks Shelley! I am the same way! :)