- Look at the inner wheel – the complementaries are opposite each other:
Primary yellow is opposite its complement, purple;
Primary red is opposite its complement, green;
Primary blue is opposite its complement, orange.
(Because each complement is made from the remaining two primaries.) Think about this!
The outer wheel shows a warm and a cool variant of each colour.
2) So how can a knowledge of complementaries help your painting process?
- Use a dot of complementary colour to tone down or “grey”a garish colour:
if your green is too garish add a pinpoint of red or burnt sienna,
if your purple is too garish add a pinpoint of yellow (or terracotta)
if your orange is too bright add a pinpoint of blue.
When you paint a green tree add a little red to the shadow area ( which should be a darker blue-green already).
- Use a complementary to make a colour sing out: a coral pink dress against a green field, ( with a coral pink toned ground peeping out all over the painting to create colour harmony and a glow)
Use a yellow against its complementary purple:
Use an orange or orange-red contrasted with its complement blue:
- Use a colour and its complementary to make a dramatic / effective / harmonious colour scheme, e.g. buildings in a soft warm yellow sunshine with a soft purple in the shadows.. terracotta coloured buildings with blue in the shadows..
- If you mix TWO COMPLEMENTARY COLOURS together you will get a neutral: brown or other neutral colour like grey. Red and green make brown or grey, yellow and purple make brown or grey, blue and orange make brown or grey.
- Flesh colours are in fact a mixture of all three primaries – people are basically orange ( lighter or darker) in colour, toned down by a touch of blue. More about flesh colours in a later blog.
So enjoy those gorgeous colours and Keep Painting!