Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Diversity of Color: Analogous Trinities

As my understanding of color grows, I begin by understand that there are nearly infinite ways to use color in painting, if you understand how the vibration of color works with its analogous or complementary color on the color wheel. That is the point of the following exercises — to use three analogous colors, mixed with their complements, but keeping to either the warm or cool side of the color wheel. Fascinating effects, don’t you think? In each painting study, one section is painted in colorful neutrals, while the other side leans towards pure color. When you place pure color next to neutralized color, the pure color looks more intense. While the neutralized color changes slightly, highlighting the complement within the neutral.

Color chart of three analogous cool
colors with neutral mixtures.
"Blue Arizona"is painted with a neutralized sky and pure color mountains. The effect, for me, highlights the neutral sky. The only colors I used in the painting are the colors swatches seen in the color chart above.

"Blue Arizona," watercolor, 11" x 14"
Copyright, Sara Light Waller, 2014

Next, we flip over to the warm side of the color chart.

Color chart of three analogous warm
colors with neutral mixtures.

"Grand Canyon Sunset" is painted with the colors swatches seen in the above chart.

"Grand Canyon Sunset,"watercolor, 9 3/4" x 15" Copyright, Sara Light Waller, 2014
As you can see, the two paintings are vastly different! And all from using only six colors, staying to cool or warm side of the color chart, and using the main three colors' complements to create colorful neutrals. What a fun ride! :-)


  1. I didn't think 'what, blue mountains', I thought, 'great forms'. Judi Betts talks a lot about using neutrals to make pure colors pop.
    I really like your work! Gwen