Most great paintings use the principles of color harmony with the use of complementary colors.
COLOR HARMONY, or yin yang in painting, is the overall tone of the piece of art.
This can be seen in many important works of art throughout the centuries.
Yin (the moon, female) colors are considered to be cool, while yang (the sun, male) colors are warm. Again, it is the balance of opposites which attract to create the harmonic tone of the painting.
Interestingly enough, color harmony is another example of yin yang in painting. Yin (the moon, female) colors are considered to be cool, while yang (the sun, male) colors are warm. Again, it is the balance of opposites which attract to create the harmonic tone of the painting.
Most of you know that the primary colors on the wheel are obviously red, yellow and blue – from there, the complementary colors on the color wheel are actually opposite colors and temperatures. The first diagram illustrates primary colors. The second diagram illustrates secondary colors. The colors opposite of each other are called complimentary colors.
(primary color wheel)
Red + Blue = Purple
Blue + Yellow = Green
Red + Yellow = Orange
Purple, green and orange are called secondary colors. From there you can keep mixing and creating beautiful tones and grays of different values.
Red and yellow are considered warm while blue is cool. That seems easy enough, but it becomes a bit complicated after that…
Cool colors (yin) recede while warm colors (yang) come forward. Look at any good landscape painting to see examples of this. The trees or grasses in the background will be cooler and will warm as they advance to the foreground of the painting.
But, wait there is more…
Within each color family, there is a myriad of warm and cool tones. Alizarin Crimson is a cool red, while Cadmium Red is warm. Cadmium Yellow is warm and Naples Yellow is cool. Cobalt Blue is cool and Ultramarine Blue is warm. When you study your own palette and play with the paint, you will begin to see these subtle color variations that will help the overall feeling of harmony in your paintings.
This is just a quick tutorial about complimentary colors. There is so much more, but I won’t overwhelm you with that right now. Enjoy taking some time studying and painting until and you understand the power of using yin yang color harmony.
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