(Get free painting tips and techniques sent straight to your inbox or on my social media.)
Secrets to achieving stunning tertiary color harmonies
Much of the pleasure from viewing a painting is derived, to a large extent, from the harmony of the colors used in it. This harmony is basically an orderly relationship of colors, just as a musical harmony is an orderly relationship of notes. This is part of the music of the painting. One easy method for achieving a harmonious landscape painting is to use the tertiary color harmony.
The tertiary harmony uses all six tertiary hues. You can think of these six tertiary hues as a warm and cool version of each of the three secondary hues.
You create the six tertiary colors by mixing the secondary colors (orange, green, and violet), with the adjacent primary colors (yellow, blue and red). so you get yellow-orange, red-orange, red-violet, blue-violet, blue-green, and yellow-green.
Use the tertiary color harmony in a similar way to how you would use the secondary and adulterated primary color harmonies. However this color harmony is much more useful in that it provides a warm and cool version of each of the secondary colors.
In a landscape, the warmer yellow orange and red orange colors are usually seen in the foreground, together with yellow greens in the vegetation. The cooler blue greens are seen more in the middle distance. The red violet and blue violets are seen in distant hills and mountains, and in the near shadows, with the coolest blue violets being seen in the far distance.
More examples of tertiary color harmony
You can see the same tertiary color harmony in more of my paintings.
Old Master tertiary color harmony paintings
To learn more
To learn more discoveries about how you can look for different color harmonies to give variety to your paintings, see the Virtual Art Academy® Apprentice Program.
Thank you for taking the time to read this article. Please feel free to share it with friends. If you are interested in a structured approach for learning how to paint, take a look at my online painting classes.
Barry John Raybould
Virtual Art Academy