Use the Color Wheel for Color Harmony in Your Next Painting

Use the Color Wheel for Color Harmony in Your Next Painting

If you want built-in color harmony in your paintings, use a color wheel to select your color combinations. Someone centuries ago developed the color wheel and now we can reap the benefits - all we have to do is use it.The color combinations on the wheel, if used, will provide color harmony that many artist's work lacks.

I see many examples of contemporary abstract painting in galleries and online and most do not have color harmony. The colors don't go well together and seem very awkward in their use. I prefer my paintings to be harmonious and beautiful. If you want the same for your work then use the color wheel as a basis for choosing your color combinations.

I personally use the "Crystal Color Wheel" which I buy through There are other places to purchase it and a quick Google search should inform you where.

The four basic color combinations found on most color wheels are:

1. Monochromatic. Monochromatic color is one color (mono meaning one) with white and black. White is used to tint the color (make lighter values) and black is used to shade the color (make darker values).

2. Complementary. Complementary color combinations include two colors directly across the color wheel from each other. If used next to each other in a painting they energize each other. If they are mixed together, they begin to neutralize each other. If mixed 50-50 they produce a neutral grey. Because one color is always warm and the other is always cool, your painting will be predominantly warm or cool.

3. Triadic. Triadic color combinations include three colors (tri meaning three). Triadic colors are every fourth color on a standard 12 color wheel. Triadic color combinations can be easily located on your wheel by looking for the triangle on the part that turns. The points of the triangle align to the triadic colors.

4. Analogous. Analogous color combinations include 4 colors located adjacent to each other on the wheel. Because there is no "jump" across the wheel for an accent color, the combination will only be warm or cool. This is my least favorite combination, but it does have applications.

Buy a good color wheel and learn to use it. Your paintings will be better because the colors will work in harmony to make your paintings better than you imagined. It will make you a better painter, I guarantee it.

If you would like to learn more mixing fresh, beautiful color, then please join me for a workshopjoin one of my online courses, or get a digital download art lesson.