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Perfection in the Fine Art of Color Design

How does blue affect you? Do you find it soothing or do you find it depressing? Do seek the solitude and peace of nature for renewal? If you have to make a major decision, do you seek the eternal qualities of the the water and soothing sounds of the ocean? Do you love the blue sky, the blue-green ocean, green lakes, blue mountains, rolling green hills, and green forests? Their cool, calm colors have spiritually renewing qualities. They are stress-busters. You can produce the same effect using these colors in your art, photography and decorating.

Your color choices will convey feelings and emotions. The grey and offwhites of winter are quiet and reflective, even somber. Nature puts on a show of joyous yellow daffodils and red tulips of spring. The passing of winter is announced each spring by the singing of yellows, pinks and reds in blooming trees and azaleas. Everyone loves the bright reds, oranges and yellows of autumn as the quiet, lazy greens of summer yield to the changing of the seasons and the coming gray days of winter. It is time to celebrate the harvest that results from the hard work of springtime's plowing and sowing. Yellow, orange and red are cheerful, warm accent colors, most effectively used in small quantities.

Color is the reflection of light and light comes in many colors. Sunrise and sunset have a warm glow varying between yellow, gold and orange light. This light is the most appealing for photography and works of art.

Color is a specific wavelength of unabsorbed light. White is unsplit or unbroken, unabsorbed light. Black occurs where all light has been absorbed. The color wheel is the visible spectrum of light. A rainbow or a prism reveal light being split up into wavelengths.

Colors come in many definitions, starting with primary, secondary and tertiary. Primary colors are red, yellow and blue. The secondary colors are orange, violet and green. They are the result of mixing the primary colors. Orange is produced by mixing red and yellow. Green is the result of mixing blue and yellow. Blue and red produce violet.

Tertiary colors are the result of additional color mixes between primaries and secondaries. Their names are self-explanatory, yellow-orange, orange-red, yellow-green, blue-green, red-violet and blue-violet.

Saturation is color purity. Value is the amount of white, gray or black added to the pure color. White is added to make a tint. Black is added to produce a shade. Gray is added to produce a tone.

The most successful and least difficult color schemes to use consists of monochromatic or analagous colors. Monochromatic are shades of one color. Analagous colors are three or four colors side by side on the color wheel.

The most pleasing color schemes - the ones you will see the in decorating magazines - are based on different shades of one dominant color (monochromatic), usually in the walls, fabrics and accessories. The monochromatic color scheme is safe and gives the appearance it was "professionally decorated". It almost can't be done incorrectly and it is almost always extremely beautiful because it based on color harmony. Solid colors are a little boring but they are the safest to use for foundation colors. Conservative, monochromatic patterns with a few, similiar accent colors are the next safest choices.

More exciting, but also more difficult to accomplish, are complements. Complementary colors are opposites on the color wheel. One color should dominate and one should be an accent color used in small quantities. These combinations include red and green at Christmas, among others.

To add a little artistry to a monochromatic - all one color scheme - add a single accent with the color opposite on the color wheel.


  • Opposites - Red and green are opposites on the color wheel, and used conservatively with muted shades (rather intense loud colors) are very artistic. Examples are burgundy with hunter green or speermint with old rose.
  • Opposites - Blue and orange are opposites also. Navy blue or sky blue with peach or gold can be luxuriously beautiful.
  • Opposites - Violet and yellow are opposites - mauve, lavender and purple come to life when highlighted with a vase and floral accents of pale yellow or brass lamps.

    The most difficult to use successfully are the more complicated complements. A double complement is two sets of opposite colors. A split complement uses a color and the two colors adjoining its opposite color. An alternate complement is a triad (triangle of three equally distant colors) with one opposite color. A tetrad is four equally distant colors, which will be two complementary pairs.

    Color speaks and color changes everything.
  • Blue is serene, tranquil, dignified.
  • Red is exuberant and shouts.
  • Yellow is cheerful and sunny.
  • Green is harmonious and unifying.
  • Orange jumps up and down.
  • Soft orange - peach - is welcoming.
  • Brown is warm, dependable, traditional.
  • Burgundy adds life to dark colors.
  • Grey is serious, conservative, professional, sophisticated.
  • Black is permanent, alone it is depressing.
  • White is refined and sophisticated.

    More about Using Color

  • Yellow is bright and cheerful - you will find some yellow everywhere.
  • Canary, beige, gold, champagne, wheat, brown, natural wood floors and furniture - are in the yellow family - with either white, gray, black or red added.
  • Living with children makes the darker colors such as beige, wheat and brown good basic fabric choices.
  • Yellow, orange and red are best used as small accents, in large quantities they are too loud.
  • Brown is a good foundation, yellow can be added in pillows, quilts and photographs.

  • Red is shouts very loudly and usually has to be toned down with white, gray or black to be "livable". It is best used sparingly as an accent.
  • Add white to red = pink.
  • Add gray to red = maroon.
  • Add black to red = brown.
  • Small children will do less damage to the darker red colors such as maroon, burgundy and brown, which wear well.
  • Maroon and burgundy are excellent foundational colors and can easily be adapted to multiple color schemes. They are reserved but have warmth. They are also deep enough to be used in a masculine household.
  • They are good fabric base colors, either as solids or a pattern.
  • Red can be added with pillows, hooked rugs, flags, all hangings and photographs.

  • Soft muted blues are cool and relaxing.
  • Deep blues and blue-grays are dignified.
  • Deep blue or blue gray is good fabric base color as a solid or print for family life.
  • Lighter blues can be added with quilts, pillows and photographs.

  • Green is a mix of blue and yellow.
  • Green brings a harmonious balance to the other colors, as it does in nature.
  • Green grass and leaves are a dominant color used by nature to tie together and harmonize the exuberance of her color scheme.
  • Green adds the finishing touch to any color scheme.
  • Live plants can best add this balance, but silk ferns, etc. are almost as nice.
  • Green glassware adds a finishing touch, but should be protected from children.

  • Orange is a combination of yellow and red - it almost jumps up and down because it is so "active" as a color. It is best used very sparingly. It can have an "agitating" effect.

  • Purple and violet are a blue and red mix. They are romantic, especially when combined with shades of pink.
  • Purple is not often used as a dominant color, it can be depressing.
  • Pale violet can be used as wall color and create a cool, soothing mood.

    Your color scheme will set the tone of your home or office. You will combine the primary colors (red, yellow and blue) with white, grey and black to create the colors you like for decorating or art.

    The primary colors can also be artistically used as long as you use only a few colors. The fewer colors, the more effective and polished will be the look. One dominant color will "settle" the room. A second color will be the main accent color and a third color used very sparingly can be the icing on the cake. As an example, you might like your furniture in a dark denim blue, with a deep burgundy hooked rug and throw pillows, in red and white. In the spring you can change your pillows to yellow and add a golden brown hooked rug. Bring in some daffodils from the yard and you have a brand new decor. Your accent colors can be changed frequently just by changing your accessories, such as throw pillows. A similar effect can be captured with rich burgundy or hunter green furniture and a navy blue hooked rug. Sheer light drapes that blend with the wall color are a safe choice and allow more freedom to decorate with accent colors.

    If you harmonize the colors, and add some inspirational subject matter to your walls, you have a room that you will always enjoy entering. Flowers and trees on the walls are one of the most uplifting art subjects, and just as uplifting as flowers and trees in your garden.

  • Photographs speak more than a thousand words
  • Family Photos - Tradition, Roots, Affection, Eternal, Togetherness, Values, Honesty, Integrity, Nurturing, Peace, Purity, Safety, Sharing, Teamwork, Teaching, Togetherness, Tenderness, Trust, Wisdom
  • Country Scenics, Farms, Fields, Crops, Flowers, Barns, Roads - Abundance, Environment, Good Life, Hard Work, Independence, Safety, Sharing, Simplicity, Success, Wealth, Wisdom
  • Wild Birds - Confidence, Cooperation, Ecology, Eternal, Faith, Freedom, God, Independence, Leadership, Optimism, Peace, Safety, Success, Victory, Winning, Wisdom
  • Geese - Teamwork, Success, Victory
  • Eagles - Achievement, Action, American Dream, Confidence, Eternal, Faith, Freedom, God, Independence, Leadership, Liberty, Power, Pride, Safety, Strength, Success, Winning, Wisdom
  • Wildlife - Adaptability, Cleverness, Cooperation, Ecology, Eternal, Faith, Freedom, Good Life, Independence, Nurturing, Peace, Power, Safety, Teaching, Simplicity
  • Wildflowers growing in the backyard or along a natural wood fence - Abundance, Good Life, Simplicity
  • You can use frames from the dollar store, painted and repainted to match your decor, and pictures from magazines or calendars and achieve artistic style.

    Color Harmony
    Adjoining colors, side by side, and shades of just one color are harmonious.
  • Warm colors:
  • Red - Orange - Yellow - Yellow Green
  • Cool Colors:
  • Green - Blue - Violet - Magenta
  • Mix harmonious colors first and then add
    a small accent in an opposite color.

    Color Opposites
    These rows are opposite each other
    on the color wheel.
  • Red is opposite Green
  • Red Orange is opposite Blue Green
  • Orange is opposite Blue
  • Yellow Orange is opposite Blue Violet
  • Yellow is opposite Violet
  • Yellow Green is opposite Red Violet

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