Several years ago I took a workshop with Hilary Page. She is a fine watercolorist who has made an intense study of the pigments from every watercolor manufacturer. She shared her discoveries with us but also explained a new look at color complements - visual complements as opposed to mixing complements. (See her website for an in-depth explanation.)
We are familiar with the traditional 12 section color wheel based on the 3 primaries, red, yellow, blue. The Munsell theory of color, which Hillary subscribes to, squishes the wheel a bit and leaves 5 major colors, 10 total. The 5 are red, yellow, green, blue and purple.
All artisans working with color whether 2d, 3d, fiber, metal, glass, come to realize that some colors just look good together. The traditional complement of red is green. But red, especially an orange red, looks best with blue-green. Well, except at Christmas!
In the days after the workshop I did 4 little paintings of imaginary still lifes to cement my understanding of visual complements. Working clockwise through the 4 paintings you will see that yellow moves to red-orange to blue-red to purple. Blue moves to blue-green, to true green and to yellow-green.
You are probably already making these color decisions subconsciously in your work. But if not, give it some thought. And if you are contemplating buying a piece of art you may better understand why it "works".
Now you see why the painting below works so well. Be back soon with a few more color studies.
2 days ago