Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Complementary Colors

Surrounding a color with its complement is one of those exercises that is very popular in art classes.  A red square surrounded by a green field will intensify the red.  A yellow square framed by a violet square will intensify the yellow.  An orange piece embedded in a blue field will emphasize the orange.

But sometimes we forget to apply the information we get with these exercises in our paintings.  Choosing local colors often pre-empts applications of color knowledge.  Using arbitrary colors for the purpose of intensifying pure color areas often results in more interesting paintings than using accurate colors.

In this painting of a jellyfish, I chose to emphasize the fish by using the complements orange and blue.  I used a cool blue--thalo-- and an ultramarine blue which has a bit more red in it to surround the orange.  That gives the orange an extra pop that gives extra intensity.

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