Color theory

Sometimes a comment on a blog stays with me. That happened recently when I read Black in more than 140 characters on Sandra Heska King’s blog. She had this great quote from Amy Grant about how when you mix black into something it creates fullness. It was a great quote, and it got me thinking about painting and shading. So I left this comment:

That is a wonderful analogy. I like it very much. I would agree that a little black gives much depth.

However…do you know how you shade and give depth when you’re painting a picture? You mix the color opposite to your color on the color wheel. The opposite color also makes the other “pop”. Red/green, blue/orange, yellow/purple, etc. (Think about football jersey colors. Many have opposite colors on them.)

I don’t really have an analogy for that one. Just wanted to share a painting tip. I know–you’re welcome.

But my brain couldn’t leave it at that. It had to come up with an analogy. So here it is (again, you’re welcome):

While complimentary colors create a feeling of calm and harmony,

Colors which are opposite on the color wheel

make the other stand out,

making each other seem that much brighter and intense.


When two opposite colors are blended carefully, they can result in the subtle shading of the other, giving more depth and dimension to the overall picture.

But too much of one into the other makes for a drab, muddy picture, and the original intensity of each begins to fade into the background.

Mix the two equally, and the results are a uniform drabness. Both colors void of their original brilliance.

It’s all about balance. Knowing how much is enough through trial and error.

Or recognizing that in order to compliment the other, sometimes the right decision is not to blend at all, but simply let one color draw attention to the other.

Remembering that often in the big picture,

all these tips may come in handy.

« « Previous Post: Staples and the human condition (by Billy Coffey) | Next Post: Pride will literally make you fall (by Michael Perkins) » »

18 Responses to “Color theory”