I chose ultramarine blue for the small square and painted around them with similar blues.The surround I had mixed a little white into gave the best definition. I then painted orange around the blue, actually I tried 2 blues, this makes the colours jump out, then I tried with cadmium yellow which was even better 🙂
The dark blue with the orange is the best contrast I think. I think the yellow is the wrong hue to complement here. I used orange and light green for the other exercise. The difference is quite striking I think, between the squares with the grey compared to the ones using the 2 complementary colours. I also did a few quick sketches with these colours, but am going to continue with some other colours in the next few days.
I painted cadmium red squares, then mixed crimson red with this and also some white to make some different reds to surround the squares. I painted light blue squares and put grey in one and red in the other and also grey in 2 red squares. Actually, I think the dark grey looks rather nice with the crimson red….and the white square with the dark grey centre is also a good contrast. Bright green works best with the red frame.
So complementary colours enhance each other so that they appear more intense and vivid when viewed together, whereas colours that are close on the spectrum are placed together they have the effect of cancelling each other out.
The colours I was using made me think of parrots, or brightly coloured birds. So maybe the animal and bird kingdom have been making use of complementary colours for a long time…..