Color Fundamentals/Pastel, 1.4

In this lesson, we will continue our study of color harmonies by using a tetrad, which is two pairs of complementary colors. Designated by the light great rectangle on the back of the color wheel, this “rectangular” tetrad uses complements that are one step away from each other. The colors in this case are red-violet, yellow-orange, yellow-green, and blue-violet. All tertiary colors. I will also bring out white and some grey ranges.


We turn the dial so that the word “tetrad” on the upper left hand corner of the grey rectangular, points to the dominant, or most important color in our subject matter. The other three colors will be used compositionally as well as mixed with their corresponding complement (as well as each other) to change and alter values. Mixing together will also neutralize and cut color intensity, and create some other new, subtle colors in the process. I’m starting with the orchid, in light.


I have a light tint, and a darker shade for each of the four colors selected, as seen in the first photo above. My initial sketch starts loose, and I gesturally map out the entire configuration.


I’ve practiced mixing colors a little in the upper right hand corner, and down below on the left, I’ve put a little diagram of my harmony, so I can refer back to it later. Now, I’m going to put in more lights, and darks, to set the contrast.


I’ll start putting in more middle values, and then go back and revisit the lights and darks again. I’ve put in a light, cool grey in the background, choosing one of the cool colors in the palette (blue-violet).


Following are some homework studies that my students brought in the next week. Their drawings used the same harmonic structure, but chose a different dominant color, therefore a different harmony:









Great work, everyone!

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