Using The Color Wheel

09 October 2012

Do you ever get stuck trying to figure out what color to paint that room, or which color sheets to buy?  I always get stuck on this.  I know which colors I like, but can't very well paint the walls purple.  I am as waspy as they come, and purple just doesn't suit. 
It goes beyond favorite colors, too.  The warmth or coolness of a particular color can change the way you feel in a room.  A soft sky blue can feel clean and breezy, but a reddish navy can feel very warm and formal. 
If you have ever taken an art class, I am sure that you have had to color in the color wheel (Yes, even at The Art Institute.  They call it "Color Theory," when it is really just middle school color by number at 35 times the cost.).  It seems mundane, but it is useful for anyone who hasn't seen/used it before.  

Color Wheel Basics:

  • Adding white to a color makes it a tint of that color (pink is a tint of red).
  • Adding black to a color makes it a shade of that color (navy is a shade of blue).
Colors opposite each other on the wheel are compliments and they play well together when you are looking for pops of color.
Tones and shades of blue with pops of complimentary orange.
Colors next to each other on the color wheel blend together harmoniously to create interest, without jarring the eye.
Greens, blues, and yellows blended together.
Colors in the same section (tints and shades of the same color) are called monochromatic, and can be boring if left plain, but very serene and beautiful if other design elements (like texture, shape, pattern) are used to create interest.
All color is in the same griege family, but there are interesting shapes,
textures and patterns to provide interest.
The color wheel and its secrets apply equally well room design, clothing, artwork, gardening, etc.  Color is everywhere, and the color wheel is a useful tool to harness color and use it to its best advantage. 

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