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Old 10-13-1999, 09:40 PM
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Julia Julia is offline
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Complementary colors

Hi,

I've practically finished a landscape of a gloomy autumn day in basically complementary colors - English Red and Russian Green (cause I'm from Russia) plus white and Ultramarine Blue, of course. Is it possible to paint a canvas only in complementary colors?

With respect,
Julia
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Old 10-13-1999, 10:31 PM
Drew Davis Drew Davis is offline
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Well, you've done it, so I suppose the answer is yes That's one of the classic ways to achieve color harmony, the drawback being that just two literal complements (and their intermixes) can get a bit monotonous.
You mention you put in a bit of ultramarine, so perhaps you were thinking that, too.

Personally, I tend to like blue/orange better than red/green. Yellow/violet is nice, too, all sorts of delicate golden browns on the yellow side of neutral.
Experiment and have fun with it.
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Old 10-13-1999, 10:40 PM
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bruin70 bruin70 is offline
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i guess drew understands something i don't...what do you mean painting in compliments. do you have ONLY red and green on your palette and nothing else...or orange and blue only...or yellow and purple....in any case,,, color is a personal expression, and if you achieve your goal, then alls well. if it's a technical question you ask,,,yes it is...vuillard painted many times with a few greens and a few reds on his palette. matter of fact,,,that would be a good experiment for many artists to extend their creativity witha limited palette. i often see too many colors on an artist's palette

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"he who thinks he know all and knows nothing is king in a kingdom of one,,,,,or a critic" - the kobe
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Old 10-14-1999, 03:56 PM
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Hi,

Speaking of complementary colors in painting I meant that I did not use ONLY these colors, but also the blue, the ochre (or yellow) and white. But painting in complementary colors may be sort of an experiment with colors, trying to restrict myself artificially to quite a few colors (because we are free now to BUY as many colors and hues as we want). I guess a real painter should have only four colors on his palette, as you all know: white, yellow, blue and red. Thanks for assisstance.
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Old 10-14-1999, 05:26 PM
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a REAL painter can manage as many colors as he wants. a real painter orchestrates better than other his lessers. btw,,,whistler did great paintings in black, white, an yellow ochre. getting blues by using a translucent white wash over black,,,etc, etc. talk about creativity!

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"he who thinks he know all and knows nothing is king in a kingdom of one,,,,,or a critic" - the kobe
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Old 10-16-1999, 10:40 AM
Drew Davis Drew Davis is offline
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Know something you don't, bruin? No, not all all. I did interpret Julia's question as meaning two colors (only). It struck my whimsy because, as you point out, the answer to "can I" is always "yes". We've got people doing black-on-black; anything is possible. Can you get a full color picture out of a complementary pair? No, not really.

Real pigments give you a bit more flexibility, since they're not pure yellow or black or whatever, and you can get some interesting colors that in theory aren't "supposed" to be there. Whistler is a great example.

From the rest of the thread, it almost sounds like she was asking if you could manage a full color picture with only primaries. Red, yellow, and blue can get you most places you want to go. You can't get all the secondaries at full intensity that way, but then, you often won't want to. (Green is the classic example here; if you're just going to subdue a bright tube green with red every time, you could just mix a subdued one to start with.)

Also, hue isn't the only reason to have a color. Transparency is important, along with other handling characteristics of individual colors. You might use a number of reds, say, just for their different properties. Then, there's convenience. You can mix earth tones from primaries, but if you like, say, umber imprimaturas, perhaps you'd just buy a tube to save the time.

Palette composition is another one of those questions that has no one right answer. I don't think "real" painters would necessarily have only three primaries. It all comes down to what you like to use, and what you're trying to do.
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Old 10-16-1999, 11:49 AM
SlaweMonster SlaweMonster is offline
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Hey, I'm not an oil painter (can't stand the smells, I have a lung problem) but I just started working with colored pencils and I was having some (a lot of) trouble with mixing colors and how to see the true color of things so I have been working on a lesson from a book where the whole picture is done using cyan, magenta, yellow, and black. Boy is it work! But I have learned more about mixing colors from this one lesson than I have in the months I've been doing this. And believe me, I have read lots of stuff and tried many lessons!

Slawe

[This message has been edited by SlaweMonster (edited 10-16-99).]
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Old 10-16-1999, 03:36 PM
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smonster. you may be one of the few who's ever played with a limited palette. more should try.
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Old 10-16-1999, 03:39 PM
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drew,,,i hope you didn't misinterpret my "drew must know something i don't". i meant it as exactly that. i couldn't figer out what julia meant. i shoulda said something like "i think drew understands julia's question better than i,,,,"

[This message has been edited by bruin70 (edited 10-17-99).]
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Old 10-16-1999, 03:53 PM
SlaweMonster SlaweMonster is offline
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Well...it wasn't exactly play. The lesson was very educational but it was WORK. By the end of the lesson I had a better understanding of color but I was tired. Let me just say that as glad as I am to know how to take these three colors and get at least 36 different colors, I am twice as glad that Prismacolors come in 120 different colors so I can PLAY.
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Old 10-18-1999, 09:02 PM
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My point is that if you, say, take Titanium White, Prussian (or Ultramarine) Blue, Cadmium (or English, Indian, etc.) Red and Cadmium (or Lemon or Indian or Napoly) Yellow, you can get as many hues and colors, as you want. And it's very important for a real painter to practice mixing oils, because only through practice he can find his own colors and hues. And while searching you can understand the values as well and this understanding comes naturally. I took complementary colors, because I know how to get Deep Green, Olive Green, etc for foliage, miximg only Blue (Cerulean or Cadmium, etc.) with Yellow or Light (Dark) Ochre or Burnt Sienna. I wanted my green strokes be close to red strokes of various value. This makes the picture transparent, light (as those of impressionists - I'm very fond of them). Of, cause, if you have to paint yellow lemons on a blue cloth, I don't force you to use only yellows and purples, but in nature there are a lot of subtle things, that need our constant consideration.
And I repeat mixing helps a lot in terms of values. Recently I read a manual on landscape painting by John E.Carlson (pretty old), but found it immensly helpful, as he talked a lot about values, not colors (it's our personal matter) - what is lighter - the green or the sky, the distant trees or the mountain behind them, etc. And I will go my own way - by mixing oil instead of buying, say, Potrait Pink. I'd better mix Cadmium Red, Burnt Sienna and White to get the colors required for a portrait.

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