Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Complimentary colors and mixing neutrals


Over the last several nights I laid (layed?) out the following principles:

MIXTURES OF TWO PRIMARIES FORM THE SECONDARY COLORS, ORANGE, PURPLE AND GREEN.

IF YOU MIX CERTAIN SECONDARIES WITH A PRIMARY, YOU FORM A TERTIARY COLOR.

Tonight I am going to add a third;

If you look across the color wheel from any color you will find its complement.That is, its opposite.

IF YOU MIX ANY TWO PRIMARIES YOU WILL FORM THE COMPLIMENT OF THE THIRD PRIMARY WHICH YOU DIDN'T INCLUDE IN THE MIXTURE.

Here is an example of that, say you mix red and yellow together and make an orange, orange is the complement of blue. Blue is the third primary. You used yellow and red already, blue, the unused primary is the complement of orange.

IF YOU MIX COMPLEMENTS YOU GET A NEUTRAL, OR GRAY.

If you think about that for a second it makes sense. A gray or a black is the presence of a three colors. we saw above that the two different primaries were the complement of the unused primary. If we then throw that unused primary into the mix we have all three primaries in there which makes a gray or black.

So if you mix two complements you make gray.

Here is a list of the compliments from our color wheel;
  • yellow and purple(violet)
  • blue and orange
  • red and green
  • yellow-orange and blue-violet
  • yellow-green and red-violet
  • red orange and blue green.
Complements drive your color. Without complements your color will be weak. If you want a color to be powerful, you need to get some of its complement next to it.

I am moving my blog to Wordpress. The new URL address where I soon will be posting new entries is: stapletonkearns-blog.com. You can check it out right now but I am still in the process of moving. There will be a redirect of the URL stapletonkearns.blogspot.com that you are using now and all the links and feeds should still work without your changing anything. I also will leave this blog up just in case.

The voting on text color is proceeding, if you haven't voted, the poll is in the upper right hand corner of the sidebar. The black text on white folks are losing.

19 comments:

Sandra Galda said...

Hey Stapleton! Just a thought on the recent type color conundrum....How bout if we had a third choice....a dark gray background. That way you still get the cool looking high contrast format for the images, yet the gestalt challenge to reading is less apparent? Compromise is good? no matter what you choose you will still be the among the best websites ever!!!!!!

Deb said...

Hi Stape.....Greetings from northern NM.. I've been surprised to find that folks who've been painting for awhile don't know this stuff,(I found that to be true in talking with other painters). Seems to me a basic understanding of color theory is critical in making good color choices, or at least in being more intentional about the use of color. Glad you are throwing this out there for us.
I have not painted in 3 months and getting mighty antsy, but things are settling down now and hope to get to work soon. (but first I have to get the wood split for the winter)

Steve said...

Stape, I voted for black on white. I like the look of the white on black, but it gives me serious persistence of vision issues (perhaps you intended this) when I look away. I see ghost images of the type for a few minutes if I read more than one post. Obviously, a clever ploy.

See you in Acadia.

billspaintingmn said...

"Compliments drive your color" Stape, that's a neck tatoo waiting
to happen!
I think a focus of driving my color is in order.
(Do they need to put their seatbelts on?)

Bob Carter said...

Hi Stape-
I like the blog the way it is. Evidently, the majority of readers does, too, so this time you should pay attention to the referendum. :-) But what promted the move to the new location?
-Bob
pladmici = Scot buddies of Italian origin

Judy P. said...

Gee Stape, I checked out your new Wordpress blog, and I feel you are shouting at us. The font's so large; I always like getting a whole glance of the entire post- it's like a settling prep for it.
But no matter, I will follow faithfully!

mariandioguardi.com said...

My original theory of primary color for the highest values, secondary colors for mid values and tertiary colors in the darkest was almost an utter failure BUT I believe my details were wrong but intuitively there is something to one two three. Because if you use one pigment plus white in the highest values and mix your mid values keeping with only two pigments and the mix shadows and darks from three pigments, you do come up with something believable, clean colors and complex neutrals. It's an interesting exercise, maybe even a system but not the way I am going paint. Too restrictive for me.

Martyn Chamberlin said...

Stape...can't believe the black on white folks are losing. What happened!?! Sandra's got an interesting alternative. Still not ideal, but that's what Justin Clayton uses at his http://dailypaintings.blogspot.com/

Judy Greulich said...

Hi Stapleton - It's long overdue, but thank you for this terrific blog that I read every night, although I've never posted. I was curious to see if you might also mention the outdated concept of the "three tertiaries", (each one created by the mixtures of two different secondary colors) which I used to see in older texts, here and there.

The reddish-leaning "Russet" (orange plus purple), yellowish "Citron" (green plus orange) and bluish "Olive" (purple plus green) are more like chromatic neutrals (since each contains every primary), and it doesn't seem as useful a concept as the tertiaries on today's color wheel, which is why, I suppose, they've faded from general use? Always struck me funny that there were two different concepts for the same terminology, though!

Stapleton Kearns said...

Sandra:
No compromise. Gray is not an option black or white! Right or wrong! Cool or legible, those are the only options.
..............Stape

Stapleton Kearns said...

Deb;
Good to hear from you. I missed your comments. Get back to work!
...............Stape

Stapleton Kearns said...

Steve;
Persistence is a virtue.
See you in Acadia!
...................Stape

Stapleton Kearns said...

bill:
Driving your color. That sounds like a good idea for a post.
...............Stape

Stapleton Kearns said...

Bob; Wordpress will allow us to have the blog on our own server rather than with google. I also have run up against the limitations on blog size for google. Wordpress also has some fancy features and blogger can be a little buggy.
..........Stape

Stapleton Kearns said...

Judy;
I think it will be easier to read a slightly larger text.
.................Stape

Stapleton Kearns said...

Marian;
Hows about trying tints, tones and shades?
.......................Stape

Stapleton Kearns said...

Martyn;
Believe it. They are getting creamed.
............Stape

Stapleton Kearns said...

Judy:
I am using old texts to write the color section. I have seen russet etc. included but I don't intend to go that way.
...................Stape

Ariane said...

Hi Stape,
Another artist, knowing my rant on white font/black background sent me to vote.

There’s only one flaw in your voting system: you don’t know why people are voting to keep white on black.

I say it’s because black is cool and powerful and demands attention - and gets it from everyone who hasn’t been able to think this out rationally from a computer monitor vs your art perspective.

If you’d like to see a position that makes the case for “Kill the black! Long live your art!” check this out:

http://smartistcareerblog.com/2010/05/the-power-of-black/