The Color Wheel, Who Is R. G. Biv?

Complimentary Colors

color-ex4Complimentary colors are two colors that lie opposite each other in the color wheel. Every color has a compliment and every tone of a color has a complimentary color of the same tone.

If you wish one color to have more emphasis in a design than any other color you use a small touch of it’s compliment somewhere in the pattern so that it touches that focus color. Inside the eye are color rods that determine which color you are seeing. These rods are divided into two parts, one part sees a particular color and the other part sees the compliment to that color. So one rod would have a combination of blue and orange and another rod will be red and green. Since a rod can only see one color at a time placing a small amount of it’s compliment to that color in the design forces the eye to see the main color … a small amount of orange makes the blue/orange rods see blue!

It is the pink-red tones through the feet and dogwood flower that are important in this painting. The addition of pale green leaves next to this area intensifies the pink tones.

color7Red is the compliment to Green
Yellow is the compliment to Purple
Blue is the compliment to Orange
Pink is the compliment to Pale Green.
Dark Turquoise is the compliment of Burnt Orange


Using Brown as a Mixing Tone

color-ex6There are only two colors used in this painting, blue and it’s compliment orange. Black and white were added to the palette for toning. All of the brown in this design is created by mixing various amount of these two compliments.

This is a predominately pale tone painting. There are no pure hues used and the dark tones are very limited through the shadow areas of the design.

Since the brown tones are so important in painting my kit contains:

Raw Sienna – a yellow brown
Burnt Sienna – a red brown
Raw Umber – a blue brown
Burnt Umber – a dark red brown
Van Dyke Brown – a black brown

color8A color and it’s compliment mixed together will create brown.
Red + Green = Brown
Blue + Orange = Brown
Yellow + Purple = Brown

When you mix complimentary colors you are mixing all three Primary colors together, Red + Green = Brown or Green = Yellow + Blue.

So the formula of Red + Green = Brown can also be written Red + (1/2 Yellow + 1/2 Blue) = Brown !This is why brown becomes the main shading tones for your painting. It allows for any combination of colors in that shadow area.

Mixing Primary Colors to Create Black

color-ex10The three primary colors mixed together will create black. Where brown is made by mixing one part primary with one half part of the remaining two primaries, black is made by mixing equal parts of all three primaries.

Again, there is no color black so even the pre-mixed colors in paint will be deepened tones of either blue or green. Test your black paint to determine which hue the color is created from by thinning the color to a wash consistency with the appropriate media.

The background behind this Doberman Pinscher is a wash coat of Lamp Black, but notice how the color seems to be a blue-green tone. Where the black has been toned with white along the left ear ridge you can again see the blue that is used to create Lamb Black.






Monochromatic – Limited Palettes

color-ex5This is a wonderfully big word for saying that you are only using one color to create your painting. Mono, meaning one and chromatic, meaning color.

Paintings done in monochromatic style heavily rely on tones, the use of black, brown, and white additives to the basic color. Using just one color forces the eye to concentrate on the shapes and shadows of the design, not the color work.

The figure in this painting is in the monochromatic style. From his hair, eyes, skin, and ornamentation, every area is a tone of burnt orange. In the sample you notice the muscle curves, not his eye or ornament coloration.

color10  Monochromatic palettes use the tonal values of one color hue.  In the sample, left, the color hue is blue with tonal values created by adding shades of gray.





2 thoughts on “The Color Wheel, Who Is R. G. Biv?”

  1. Pingback: Pyrography Styles - Pointillism |

  2. Pingback: Color, Shadow, and Light in Pyrography |

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