Colors are interconnected in space.
A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte – 1884 by Georges Seurat
To describe what color harmony is I have to go back and discuss the BEZOLD Effect. Named after Wilhelm von Bezold (1837-1907). He recognized that he could change the entire color combinations of his rug designs by adding or changing one color only.
From the Impressionist painters we have learned that they never presented, let’s say green by itself. Instead of using green paint mixed mechanically from yellow and blue, they applied yellow and blue unmixed in small dots, so that they became mixed only in our perception – as an impression. The size of the dots did matter and the smaller the better.
This discovery, was not only important in defining the paint technique known as Pointillism, but it also led to the discovery of the 4-colour printing process and the half-tone process that we use in photo reproduction today. All reflected color consists of all other colors. It’s important to understand this when we describe colors that work harmoniously together. We call these complementary colors. In principle, a complementary is a color accompanied by its after-image.
Do this: Stare at one color, say red, for about 30 seconds to one minute and then look at a white piece of paper. What you will see is the complementary color, cyan (green) in this case. This is the after – image.
When using primary colors, the complementary for, say blue, is the combination of red and yellow, which is orange. See what I mean?
You can also have split- complementary and double – complementary or tetrads, triads and octads. Also important to consider when combining colors, is the tonal value of the color; whether it’s bright or muted. This makes a big difference and must be considered when the goal is to have color harmony.
Have a look at color combinations in your every day environment and make note of the ones that just seem to work well together. Ask yourself why.
On Friday, I’ll reveal winning color combinations.