The watercolor complementary color scheme is one of the most effective ways to achieve an eye-catching color scheme in a painting. It uses pairs of colors that sit opposite each other on the color wheel.
THE BASICS OF COMPLEMENTARY COLORS
The watercolor complementary color scheme color pairs are made up of one primary color and one secondary color.
The three primary colors are yellow, red, and blue and the three secondary colors are purple, green, and orange.
The complementary color pairs are:
- yellow and purple
- red and green
- blue and orange
These color pairs create a vibrant contrast when used together, making the painting visually striking and dynamic.
In watercolor painting, this can be particularly effective because the transparent nature of watercolor allows the colors to blend and mix in interesting ways.
USING COMPLEMENTARY COLORS IN WATERCOLOR PAINTING
Complementary colors are an effective way to create strong visual contrast in watercolor painting.
Basically, they can be used to create a variety of effects, from a bold and dynamic look to a more subtle and harmonious feel.
While using a complementary color scheme in watercolor painting, it is important to keep a few things in mind.
Firstly, using too much of one color can overwhelm the other and make the painting look unbalanced.
Instead, the two-color color scheme requires using the complementary colors in roughly equal amounts or using one color more sparingly than the other making one color more dominant in the painting.
When two complementary colors are placed next to each other, they create a strong visual contrast that can help to create depth and dimension in a painting.
Also, it is important to remember that complementary colors can create a neutral gray when mixed together in equal proportions.
Because this can be useful for creating shadows or tonal variations in the painting.
However, a complementary color scheme can create a strong contrast and add visual interest to a painting.
Lastly, understanding how to use complementary colors effectively can greatly enhance the beauty and impact of a watercolor painting.
PRACTICE EXERCISE – WATERCOLOR COMPLEMENTARY COLOR SCHEME
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Choose one of the following transparent or semi-transparent watercolors color pairs:
Transparent yellow and purple complementary color pair:
Transparent red and green complementary color pair:
Transparent blue and orange complementary color pair:
Semi-transparent yellow and purple complementary color pair:
Semi-transparent red and green complementary color pair:
Semi-transparent blue and orange complementary color pair:
Compose small value-study paintings using one of the above complementary color pairs, but to start do not mix the colors together.
Paint the unmixed colors one color next to the other color in the “focal point” central area of emphasis in the composition.
Then, mix the two complementary colors together in varying proportions to create different color mixtures.
Also, use a gray scale value finder as a guide for mixing a range of tonal values for the complementary color scheme.
Afterward, add the mid-tonal values and neutralized color mixtures in the outlying areas of the painting composition.
By spending time working with the watercolor complementary color scheme, you will eventually gain a deeper understanding of color contrast and harmony, and how to organize the colors and values in your painting compositions.
To learn more about transparent watercolors, click the link to my blog post “Which watercolor paints are transparent.”
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