Color ideas / Chromatic circle

Video to view with article

Finding the right colors for a painting can be a real challenge. The possibilities, combinations, harmonies & mixtures of colors are so numerous that it’s easy to get lost.

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In this article, I propose a simple first approach, using a color wheel to generate easy-to-implement color ideas.

The color wheel

Itten’s chromatic circle

The color wheel is a tool that I find indispensable if you want to understand colors properly.

The chromatic circle above is the Itten Circle, giving you an extra dimension and help when mixing your colors.

Mixing shades and colors

First and foremost, it’s important to understand how color mixing works. To do so, check out my article on color mixing.

How the color wheel works

To keep things simple at first, I’d like to give you a brief overview of the color wheel.

On a color wheel, colors / hues are arranged in chromatic order, in order of chromaticity. To put it simply, the colors follow each other in a logical order.

This circle contains all the colors, and by dividing it in half, you can find the warm and cool colors.

Where to find a color wheel

A color wheel can be found in any art supply store.

Manet chromatic circle

In my case, I use the Manet chromatic disc. If you are interested, you can buy it online here: Buy the Manet chromatic disc

How to use the color wheel easily

Here, I suggest using a first, simple approach to the color wheel to define a set of colors that will definitely work for an abstract / modern painting.

In this example, I explain how I created this modern painting using my color wheel and a logical color harmony.

For more information on this example, I highly recommend watching the video that accompanies this article (at the top of the page).

The aim of this painting was to use a broad spectrum of colors, covering practically the entire chromatic circle.

For this painting, I used a simple combination that consists of following the chromatic order of the circle and using the different colors in order.

I simply started with the color yellow, then, referring to my circle, I took it in turns to use the color next to it and my previously used color.

So in order :

  • Orange
  • Yellow
  • Light green
  • Dark green
  • Turquoise
  • Dark blue
  • Purple

This color mix is very effective and you can use it for your paintings. Like me, I recommend starting with one color and continuing chromatically.

With this method, you’ll never run out of color ideas again, I guarantee it!

Go further and learn different color combinations / harmonies

If you’d like to go further and learn lots of other approaches, lots of other color combinations, I recommend my video course n°5 dedicated to color harmonies in acrylic painting.

Discover the video course on color harmonies

Pack offert : Techniques, matériel & guide

Pour vous lancer dans la peinture abstraite dans de bonnes conditions, je vous offre ce pack comprenant mon guide du matériel, un cours de peinture abstraite et une avalanche de conseils !

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