Color: #8 Simple Harmony

Today we work with a simple harmony. We use the cast  shadow color as a guide to determine the harmony. The shadow appears cool compared to the orangey gourds.  After some deliberation we choose blue for shadow because the harmony attached to this choice yields most versatility especially in mixing greens.

First build a grid to show color mixing potential: A simple  harmony is a complementary combo with 2 analogous attached to one of the comps. In this case blue is complementary to orange. The two analogous attached to orange are yellow-orange and yellow.  The grid follows the same orientation as the color wheel.

Grid developed vertically and diagonally.


Grid developed horizontally with each color clockwise-it’s subtle but changes slightly.



Once the grid is developed, make a measured line drawing of the still life subject showing the boundaries of shapes, light/value, and color changes.  Block in large areas of color first. Use a very light touch. Incorporate tints and shades of the 4 hues as well as warm and cool grays.

and finally.

Give yourself as much time as you need. We worked for 1 1/2 hours on just the drawing and felt we could’ve used more time.

Driving home I see this simple harmony in the sunset…pretty cool.

Thanks everyone for a great class!

In the meantime repeat our lessons again.

Plan on taking Color: Part II in January. We’ll continue to explore the effects of colored light on material color, reflective properties ,colors’ relationship to mood, earth tones and luminosity. We’ll be using pastel in addition to colored pencil. Pastel better prepares you for the loose gestural techniques used in painting.

Supply list for Color: Part II includes a set of 30 Rembrandt (or equivalent) soft half sticks, a box of 12 hard nu-pastels, a large sheet of 1-ply Strathmore acid free rag museum board to cut into different sizes, and at least two pastel pencils: yellow ochre and gray.

2 thoughts on “Color: #8 Simple Harmony

  1. This is a very cool post. I love the instruction here. One thing that I have found fascinating is to take a photo of vegetables and then enlarge the pixels 30x and it creates a really interesting palette that we are otherwise not aware of.

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