Transform Your Art with Color
Beautiful, Vibrant Color Attracts Attention to Your Art
Using interesting colors is one of the most dynamic ways to attract attention to your art. Complementary colors create drama and add excitement to any art project. The change you will see in your work can be transforming. I will show you three different applications to infuse complementary colors into your artwork. And the great news is, any artist can use these techniques. Whether you paint portraits, landscape, animals or still life: abstract or contemporary.
Painting for Success
How you use color will make your artwork dynamic or boring. Deciding which colors to use and what combination of color can transform your work.
- Opposites Attract
- Blog: Reflections of an Artist
- The Foundation for Dynamic Color
- Make a Splash with Color
- More Art Advise
- Make Your Painting a Multi Tasker
- Make Your Art Stand Out
- Digital Artist Use Color Too
Color is the Key
Complementary colors are the yin and yang of color combinations. To find a color's complement you must travel all the way to the opposite side of the color wheel. I like to use the Munsell color wheel shown here, but the Traditional Triadic Color Wheel can also be used. An example of complementary colors on the Munsell color wheel, would be the opposite of green is red/purple. When you take those two opposite colors and use them together, they cause a vibration which your eyes detect. In color, as in nature, opposites attract.
A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words
The Foundation for Dynamic Color
Complements for the Under-painting
As a landscape artist, green is the color that is predominant in many of my painting. Making all that green interesting and achieving color balance in a landscape can be a struggle. How can I introduce warm colors, reds and oranges, into my painting when most of the painting is made up of cool colors, blues and greens? One way is by using the complement of green, which is red/purple for the under-painting. In the detail from my painting Morning Hits the Rocks at the right, I have used complementary colors for the first layout. Initially the painting looks pretty odd but using a warm color as an under-painting for a predominantly cool painting adds needed warmth to the finished work.
Here are the same trees painted dark green on top of the red/purple under-painting. Notice how the intensity of the green is enhanced by the complementary colors underneath. Make sure you don't cover all of the under-painting. Let some of those complementary colors show. Richard Schmid credits his wonderful greens to the red he lays down first. This technique is used by traditional and modern artists alike. Click on the image for more details.
Make a Splash with Color
Complementary Colors Next to Each Other
How do you get life into those dark shadows? With most paintings, shadows add depth and form but they can also help your painting stand out by adding color. Infusing a complementary color into your shadows is another way to create punch and interest to your work. In my painting "Days End," the blue and purple color in the shadows on the mountains provide a welcome relief from the sunset coral colors of the surrounding mountains. The color of the shadow also takes on different intensity depending on how far away you are from the painting. The Impressionists understood the importance of the three viewing distances of a work of art. From across the room the shadow looks neutral, almost gray. Closer, about 6 feet, the vibrant blue in the shadow is revealed. Up close you see the under-painting of red show through. The painting engages the viewer at all three vantage points.
Sharon's Art Advice - For more art information and tutorials try the links below.
- Sharon Weaver's Art
My website with more of my landscape paintings.
- Reflections of an Artist: Sharon Weaver's Blog
Tutorials, tips, gallery openings, marketing ideas, new paintings and much more........My thoughts as I continue exploring my art.
- Sharon Weaver's News
Sign up here and you will receive a monthly update with new paintings and stories from the field.
- Painting the Garden
Painting gardens has taken me to some of the most beautiful places imaginable. The flowers, lakes, plants and wildlife all are captured in my paintings.
- Painting Water
Water is a complicated source of inspiration. Whether painting the ocean, streams or in this case a lake, the reflections and texture of the water create interesting texture and shapes. See my step by step tutorial.
Reflections of the Past
Color IS Impact
Achieving interest from across the room to up close and personal
Take a closer look at my painting Reflections of the Past. There is nothing wimpy about the colors I used. The painting sings with a full range of complementary colors. Now look at the underpainting. From far away, the use of complementary colors over each other allows the eye to combine all the colors and read it as a rich neutral. Up close, all the wonderful colors emerge and separate, engaging the audience to take a closer look (click on the picture for more info).
From Impressionists to Modern Art - Using Vibrating Colors
See how this technique is used throughout the art world.
- Techniques of the Impressionists: Broken Color by Jerry Fresia
How the Impressionists introduced broken color to art.
- Education at the Getty: The Art and Science of Impressionist Color
Lesson plan for students to learn about the Impressionist painters' use of color.
- Color, Vision and Art
A wealth of information about color used in art from the masters to modern.
- Monet: Rouen Cathedral Series
Monets series of over 30 paintings of the Rouen Cathedral are a wonderful study of color theory.
Digital Artists Use Color Too - The Old Fashion Color Wheel Can Help Everyone
For the digitally inclined artists, I am starting a list of posts, articles and lenses. If you would like to add yours, let me know in the comment section.
- The Color Grey by Eugene Arenhaus
This is a great article for you digital artists about why not to use neutral grey.
- Tom Baxa
Great fantasy artist.
- Color Names for HTML
Need to find the perfect color for online, look no further.
- The Art of Philip Straub
- The Rules of Composition
The rule of thirds and other important composition tools are discussed. Great for all artists.
What do you think of digital art?
Digital art is causing a lot of debate in the art community. Can a computer generated image compare to a painting that is done by hand? Is the creative process less important because it is done on a computer? Isn't concept the ultimate realm of the artists? I can argue both sides to this debate, so what do you think?
Is digital art really art or not to be taken seriously.
Art By Sharon WeaverClick thumbnail to view full-size
Books I Like About Color, Composition and Landscape Painting
Here are a few art books that will inspire you.
Order Prints of Sharon Weaver's Paintings
Quality prints in any size on paper and canvas at:
All artists need praise but constructive ideas are always welcome. Or just say hi.