Part 5 - Color Theory: Conclusion

PART 1    PART 2    PART 3    PART 4

There are other concepts such as split complementary and triadic colors.  Also, there are tetrads and triads.  But for the moment, we'll stick with the covered concepts.  The material learned so far should be enough to give you the tools you need to plan and execute an intelligently designed work of art.  Let's get to the applications of the concepts we've learned so far.

Ok, so what is the big deal about all the colors and principles that make the color wheel?  The answer is the difference between a work of art, and a painting that lacks balance and harmony.  Here is the application of all this theory:

  1. Generally speaking, all painting have a dominant color and its complementary in a subtle state. Both colors are present throughout the composition.  Just pay attention to the details.  With the new knowledge you just acquired, you should be able to see it now.

  2. Many artist employed the use of light and shadow using a given color for the light, and its complementary for the shadow, or vice versa.

Peter Paul Rubens. Venus and Adonis, 1630s Metropolitan Museum of Art
In this magnificent painting, Rubens used red as the predominant color and its complementary (green) in a subtle intensity.  If you have a chance to see this composition at a higher resolution, you will see that the colors red and green are present in all details throughout the painting.
Claude Monet. Haystack. End of the Summer. Morning. 1891. Oil on canvas. Louvre, Paris, France.
The great Monet painted the sunlight on the haystacks with hues of yellow. Therefore, the areas of the same element that are in the shadow were done in its complementary color: Hues of purple.  Also, since the haystacks have red, the use of its complementary green, had to be used throughout the painting.

NoteThe above example is only one of five Color Schemes.  We will explain these important color combinations in future lessons.