What complement should you choose?

Ever have trouble figuring the complement color you should use to create color harmony in your paintings Here is a simple solution.

I painted this piece of yellowish orange cloth and wanted to know what would work best in the shadows of the folds. So I painted a swatch of that color on a piece of matt board and placed a black dot in the center. Next to the swatch I placed a black dot.

I stared at the dot intensely in the color swatch for 20 seconds or longer and then stared at the dot on the white paper and the color that eventually appeared was a blue violet. Hence the small shadow spot in the fold.

We all know the color wheel will give the complement but when it comes to those muddy grays sometimes it is hard to tell which way to go. This may not be the right value or maybe the chroma you want but it will give you a good complement base to work with.

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Comment by Jim Moyer on June 11, 2012 at 1:45

I thank you for the info. I did not know that Munsell used this tip for his color system. But it makes sense as to value,hue and intensity. Also since there is no true primaries red, yellow and blue this tip will direct you  to the appropriate complement or complement to the primary. Cool stuff this color history and theory.

Comment by Dee Berridge on June 10, 2012 at 21:35
Excellent reminder Jim! This is how Munsell put his wonderful colour system together and it's great to experience how we can do it for ourselves in the moment using our own eyes like this without having to memorise or refer to colour wheels etc.
Comment by Jim Moyer on June 4, 2012 at 1:00

Amen to that. You are welcome.

Comment by Patricia Genever on June 3, 2012 at 13:11

There are so many things we know about, but when we see it out of the context of art, we forget to make that  correlation when we are painting.  Thanks for sharing.... 

Comment by Jim Moyer on June 3, 2012 at 0:36

Not every one sees the complement Patricia. So good for you. This works so well when doing my still life pieces. There are so many grayed colors that makes the compliment a little more difficult for me to figure out. 

Comment by Patricia Genever on June 2, 2012 at 9:36

Awesome idea Jim... I stared at the black dot on the swatch for about 20 seconds and I also saw a blue violet....!!!  :)))

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