Amongst the amazing display of artwork that appears on Facebook I have been struck by the way many fine artists use complementary colours.
A Colour Wheel
Colours opposite one another on the wheel are `complementary'.
A `Watercolor' Wheel with colours specified by name rather than shade.
Complementary colours. The top row are `pure' colours whereas the bottom three are `mixed'.
Red and Green. This isn't a watercolour but look at the striking effect of using the complements red and green.
Olivia Quinton. Red and Green once more.
Arnold Lowry. Orange and Blue.
Milind Millick. A variation on Red and Green using darker shades.
Valery Poppy. Red-orange and Green-blue.
Bro Insideouart. More red than green
Olivia Quinton. Wow!
Wu Xinglian. Red and Green.
These are just examples as I haven't included every combination. I have noticed though that red and green and orange and blue seem especially popular. I hope you will agree they make the case for using complementary colours as major focal points in paintings. However this is just one approach of many. The basic premise begins with the three primaries of red, yellow and blue. We then have secondary's - by mixing the primary colours, and intermediate's by mixing one primary and one secondary.
With the primary colours Bruce McEvoy of Handprint maintains that orginally there were four, the fourth being green. The so-called printers primary colours comprise, Magenta, Yellow and Cyan blue, not just `red, yellow and blue'. As there are many different reds and yellows, not quite so many blues, numerous combinations are possible. Then we have Triadic Harmony colours - three colours spaced equally apart on the colour wheel and Split Complementary's, a colour and the two colours next to its complement. We haven't even touched on `cool' and `warm' colours with the complication of their being `cool' and `warm' versions of each basic shade. Is your head spinning! It isn't really difficult to understand with a little study, taking things one at a time..