Complementary Colors and Analogous Colors in Abstract Art Paintings

Acrylic Solutions Mixed MediaWe’re really excited about one of our newest North Light Books, Acrylic Solutions, by Chris Cozen and Julie Prichard, out in March. In this book, they talk about how you can use acrylic paints and techniques to build up mixed media abstracts and collages. In addition to several wonderful lessons, Cozen and Prichard each walk through the steps in each layer of their own paintings, showing that the steps can all be done in different orders to achieve spectacular results.

We’re happy to bring you a quick look inside at their easy descriptions of the types of painting schemes you can use, whether complementary colors, analogous colors, or a monochrome palette. Then, you can follow the easy mixing guide to create a lighter color from opaque white acrylic paint mixed with red.

Color Options
Learning to tweak color is a huge part of making art. Although we look at colors all day long, we don’t always understand what colors work well together or why one yellow clashes when another yellow doesn’t. We know artist-quality paints are expensive. Our goal is to help you maximize your investment by teaching you color mixing, Chris- and Julie-style. First, you’ll need to understand a few things about color. Then, we’ll move on to the fun and games. Let’s get started.

Monochromatic
Use many tints and shades of the same color to create a monochromatic look. Adding Titanium White, black or Titan Buff to your paint color will help you create variations of the same hue. (We have a mixing tutorial for you below!) You can also add these neutral colors, keeping them separate from the color you have chosen for your monochromatic painting.

monochromatic

Color Square
The color wheel is a great tool to use when picking colors for your artwork. Choose colors that form a square on the color wheel to make a color squared painting. Another option is to choose any three colors that form a triangle (triad) on the color wheel instead of four.

Gradients
Colors progress from light to dark in a gradient painting. Start with a pure concentration of the color of your choice and add white or buff, blending the color across the substrate.

Complementary Colors
Colors opposite each other on the color wheel are called complementary. When painting with complementary colors, it is not necessary to use the pure form of the color as shown on the color wheel. Notice the variations within each color and make your selection.

complementaryAnalogous Colors
Neighboring colors on the color wheel are said to be analogous. You can choose three or four colors that are next to each other to create a pleasing and soothing look. Working with an analogous color scheme gives you the opportunity to discover the subtle possibilities within each of the colors. Spin the color wheel around and notice all of the neighboring colors. Your choices are endless.

Let’s do a demonstration of basic color mixing:

ART MATERIALS NEEDED:

Paints:
Quinacridone Red
Titanium White
Titan Buff
Paper and Brush:
Palette paper
Small detail brush

Color Plus Light
Adding colors such as Titanium White and Titan Buff to your paint colors will create opaque tints that you can work with.

color-plus-light-1&21 Pick Up Color
Begin with a small amount of Quinacridone Red, Titanium White and Titan Buff on your palette. Only a very small amount of each is used. We will use a detail brush to mix different tones of red. With red paint on your brush, pick up a small amount of Titan Buff.

2 Mix the First Value
Beneath the pure red, mix the Titan Buff and red together.

3 Tint Out the Red
Continue to add more Titan Buff to the red to make the red as light as possible—in this case, making light pink. Remember, artist-grade paints have tremendous tint strength.

color-plus-light-3-&44 Try a Warm Pastel
Repeat steps 1-3 using Titanium White. Notice the difference in the two colors that you are mixing. The red mixed with Titanium White is more of a pure pastel of the red color, whereas the Titan Buff mixture varies slightly and creates what we like to call a warm pastel.

Easy as pie, right? For a lesson on mixing with a darker color and how you can use those colors in several different layers of paintings, preorder your copy of Acrylic Solutions today.

Delighted by Chris Cozen’s work and can’t wait until the book comes out to get your learning in? We don’t blame you! Check out these great DVDs she’s done for us as well to watch her work and learn from a Golden Acrylic Artist.

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