Virtual Art Academy
Double Split Complementary Color Harmonies 1

Double Split Complementary Color Harmonies

Learning to master color harmonies can result in some incredibly beautiful paintings. One of my favorite of these harmonies is the double split complementary harmony. This is how you can use it.

Double split complementary harmony in practice #1

Propriano Sunset by Barry John Raybould
Propriano Sunset by Barry John Raybould

Learning to master complementary color harmonies can result in some beautiful paintings. One of the most beautiful I have discovered is the double split complementary harmony. In “Propriano Sunset” I wanted to emphasize the warm colors of the low evening light hitting the buildings against the cool complementary colors in the background. For the buildings I used oranges for the walls, and reds in the tiled roofs (see Painting for Beginners: how to mix oranges). I set these warm colors off against the cooler blues in the sky and green in the palm tree on the left – a perfect application for a double split complementary harmony.

Double split complementary harmony in practice #2

Last Light, Ventana Wilderness by Barry John Raybould
Last Light, Ventana Wilderness by Barry John Raybould

I painted “Last Light, Ventana Wilderness” plein air on the dramatic Big Sur coastline of California. Looking inland as the sun sets in the west, the grass turned a warm yellow green and yellow-orange and the ominous clouds turn a beautiful red and blue violet. Another perfect double split complementary harmony!

Which colors make a double split complementary harmony?

complementary harmony

A double split complementary uses the four colors either side of the complements – in Propriano Sunset, the double split complements of red-orange and blue- green.

double split complementary harmony

Here the double split complements are the two colors either side of yellow: yellow-orange and yellow-green, and the two colors either side of violet: red-violet and blue violet.

For Beginners

  • To learn the basics of color harmony, see the lessons on color in our Virtual Art Academy® Foundation Program.

For Intermediate and Advanced artists

  • To learn everything I know about color harmony and the 18 color harmonies I have discovered, see the lessons on Color Harmonies in our Virtual Art Academy® Apprentice Program.

Comments from Barry’s Virtual Art Academy students

The improvement in my own work reaffirms that I’ve found the right program to develop as an artist

The improvement in my own work reaffirms that I've found the right program to develop as an artist 2

I have been a student of VAA since 2011. I had been searching for an online art program that could assist in helping me develop as an artist. VAA is a complete program for beginners as well as advanced students of art. The course is well structured and takes you step by step so you gradually learn and understand the nuances that are essential to develop as an artist. The online academy is highly helpful. The feedback that is given helps a lot in encouraging one’s artistic ambitions. I would recommend the VAA program to all who are interested in the intellectual as well as practical side of art. The analysis of Old Masters and contemporary artists work helps one to evaluate one’s own work and set goals. The breakdown of topics and assignments helps one to fully understand and assimilate the principles. The improvement in my own work has helped to reaffirm that I have found the right program to develop as an artist.

Manushalini Nandwani

Double Split Complementary Color Harmonies

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