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Our Mission is to promote art and art education in the community and among its members. To encourage and promote a public interest and understanding of art; to create and develop a closer relationship between art and the community and further the education and artistic development of its members.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Complementary Colors And The Color Wheel

Color Complements Questions

We have received many questions about the Spring Fine Arts Exhibition, Color Complements. I hope to address some of these issues with this post.

The first question is the most common, and there are various version of it, but this one came by e-mail.

First Question:

When you say color complements please explain. I can only use blue, purple, and green together and then red, yellow, orange without mixing each other? Can I use black and red to make a dark red? Or mix blue and white to get a light blue? Can I use black and white colors without mixing in with the blue and red colors? Please explain.


Each artist can choose any color and its complement. Look on your color wheel, or look at the links provided that will take you to on-line color wheels. With your color complements, you are to create a work of art worth looking at. Something to make the eyes linger, to engage the senses, in other words, creates a real work of art. Subject is for you, the artistto choose. But before you decide only a few subjects lend themselves to this. look at some of the links provided. Any fine art medium is acceptable, except for photography, which will have its own show again this summer

Color complements are colors opposite each other on the color wheel. That is all that we are specifying. These two colors should be used creatively in the work, but yes, you can mix them in any proportion. Do a little test, and see just what a wide range of colors and values you can get with even a simple pallett.

Choose one color from the color wheel and the color directly opposite it to be the foundation of your work. You can add white to either paint, mix the paints together, etc. You will find that the combination of two complements gives you either a dark brown or deep gray. But don’t stop there, try mixing a little of one with a lot of the other, add white to get a range of colors. Some people do choose to use black to deepen the colors. This is up to the artist. What you get depends on what you choose. There are many blues, reds, yellow pigments and they all behave differently when mixed.

In practice, say you decide to use a deep red, like alizarin crimson. This is a rather cool dark red, so you would choose its opposite, a green. But choose a warmer, yellow green, like sap green rather than a darker, bluer green like Thallo green. Mix these two together and you get a really beautiful brown! Now add a bit of white, and you get a complete range of colors! Vary the amount of green/red in any mixture and you get different colors.

See this example of the color scheme:

Here is a color chart to help you with this: this is a mixing chart for this type of project.


also, some information on colors and the color wheel


and some color wheels:


To help you see just what can be done, here are some examples of paintings done with complementary colors:


These examples are in a range between experienced artists and beginners, so this is very do-able!

We have also been asked about presentaion and framing.

Second Question:

I know you mention my artwork has to be properly framed. Can I use 9X12, 2" deep cradled Gessobord for hanging with no additional framing occurred? The edges are sanded.


When you use a gallery wrapped canvas, the canvas wraps around the supports making a need, finished edge. While many people simply paint the edges black, this does not make a nice presentation. It does detract from the presentation of the artwork. The best way to handle this is to continue the painting around the edges to the finished sides. However you decide to do it, remember that the judging will also include how you present your work. Looks count. Well made cradled boards have neatly finished edges, of high quality wood, often stained and finished, but some of the newer, poor quality ones have rather rough edges. Keep this in mind when you choose what you are working with. The best boards do wrap the canvas around the edges, or have finely finished wood.

Unlike many show, we do not specify a certain type of framing, depth of mat, etc. While many shows insist on bland, thin plan black frames, we feel that the choice of how to present the work is part of the esthetics of art, and is something the artist should decide. But remember, the frame, if any should complement, not compete with the artwork. But we do insist on proper wires to hang the artwork. Saw tooth hangers simply do not work in a large-scale show.

Gallery wrapped canvases are acceptable, and should be finished all the way around, not simply painted off with black paint. Hook and eyes with picture wire should be attached.

Remember to put labels on all your submitted work.

All submitted work will be hung in this show, but judging will be based on adherence to specifications in the prospectus.

Third Question

You state that permission is given to the Renaissance Gallery to reproduce the work for publicity of exhibit. Please explain further.


Don’t be frightened by this. This is standard practice for art shows. As with most shows, submitting your work gives permission for limited use of your work to promote the hosting gallery and the show. Your artwork remains your own. Always. But it is standard practice to use photos of some of the submitted artwork for publicity purposes. The work will not be reproduced for sale, only to promote the gallery and its shows. In addition your work may be included in photographs taken by reporters and TV cameras as they cover the show and opening reception. This also is standard practice, and where possible, we will endeavor to see that your work is attributed to you.

I hope this answers some of the questions you have about this show in particular and Open Entry shows at The Reniassance Art Gallery in Huntington, WV.

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