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Using Tertiary Color Harmonies to Create Beautiful Landscapes

Tertiary Color Harmonies
Moody Evening, Garrapata, Big Sur, by Barry John Raybould

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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.

using tertiary color harmonies to create beautiful landscapes
tertiary colors

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.

Hazy Afternoon, Big Sur, by Barry John Raybould
Passing Clouds, by Barry John Raybould
award winning painting
Val di Chiana sunset, Tuscany Italy, by Barry John Raybould, Oil on Linen, 10in x 12in, 2019

Old Master tertiary color harmony paintings

tertiary color harmony
Haystacks by Claude Monet
Sunset Glow by Ovanes Berberian
Sunset Glow by Ovanes Berberian

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

Thank you for taking the time to read this article. I hope you find it useful. If you would like to get free painting tips by email, please sign up for my free tips newsletter.

If you are interested in a structured approach for learning how to paint, take a look at my online painting classes.

Happy painting!

Barry John Raybould
Virtual Art Academy

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Using Tertiary Color Harmonies to Create Beautiful Landscapes

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