Analogous Colors: Ahhhh……Harmony


Recently I’ve been doing a lot of work using limited palettes. When you use a limited palette there is always harmony as all the colors work with all the other colors.
I just posted a video on YouTube on an analogous palette, which is another form of a limited palette, using a section of blue. Before I post it at the end of this post I want to talk a bit about analogous colors and a color wheel that helps you with some of the color choices.

An analogous palette is a set of colors that sit next to each other on the color wheel. The colors work well because they are all related to each other so they are naturally pleasing to the eye.

They can be any sets of colors, yellow-orange, orange, orange-red, or red, red-purple, purple, purple-blue. You want to have both a minimum and maximum number, so a minimum of 3 and a maximum of 5, with one color dominating. In the painting and video below, green will be the dominant color though I used blues plus yellow to make the greens.
If you only use analogous colors, plus white and possibly black), you will have a mostly monochromatic work. That can be quite lovely, but if you add a complimentary color you will be able to dull down the main colors and still have the neutral colors be colorful. Black will make the colors look kind of dingy but a compliment will keep both colors lively.

You can add to this mix discordant colors. These are colors that ‘clash’ with the main colors but also add a bit of pop. To help me with choosing colors I use a Color Harmony Wheel or an Analogous Color Wheel

color harmony  In this wheel the analogous colors are blues and purples, the compliment is yellow, and the discords are green and red.

In the painting above, the analogous colors are in the blue to blue green range, the compliment is a red, and the discords are violet and yellow-orange.

I use the compliment to dull down the colors so when I put a more chromatic version of the color in it will shine. The discords help to make the work more visually interesting. You can see bits of violet in the shadow side of the apple and the orange-yellow in the stem. You don’t need or want a lot of the discord, but just enough to make it interesting.

You can click here to see the 2 minute YouTube video of the painting from start to finish.


“Kat” Using the ‘Zorn Palette’

I really love painting with the Zorn Palette. It’s simple and has the required three primaries, though slightly different. It’s nuanced, meaning I can get a variety of colors and values. And it’s BEAUTIFUL.

The Zorn palette is composed of Yellow Ochre, Vermillion, Black, and White. In a self portrait Zorn famously showed the palette of colors he used, and therefore the name, “Zorn Palette” has been ascribed to him.

It most likely was not the only set of colors he used but he was known, as were other painters (John Singer Sargent was also known to have used this limited palette as well), to use a limited scope of colors.  In this palette of colors black replaces blue.

One of my early teachers, Aaron Westerberg, made a great chart showing off the Zorn Palette.

You can see how wonderful and broad the colors are going from highly chromatic to tints and shades.

In this short YouTube video (under 2 minutes) you will see a start to finish painting I did this past weekend of a model named, Kat. (Yup…..her hair really is lavender, grey, and black)

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