Spring composition: Natural complementary colours

Colours hold a more personal meaning than the other compositional elements around us like lines and shapes. People often have favourite colours, but rarely favourite lines.

In the context of any communications the colour use may explain a deep emotional involvement of a communicator.

A natural relationship between colours is defined in the well-known Colour Wheel, which is a traditional visual representation of how colours talk to each other.

Figure 2: The Colour Wheel

The Colour Wheel

The Colour Wheel displays the colours on three levels:

  • primary colours are placed in the middle and they cannot be made by combining other colours. They are: red, yellow and blue.
  • secondary colours are made by mixing two neighbouring primary colours. They are orange (yellow and red), green (yellow and blue) and purple (red and blue).
  • tertiary colours are combinations of a primary and a neighbouring secondary colour. They surround the primary and secondary colours in the wheel.

I am always fascinated by the nature power to offer us breath-taking colour compositions and combinations.

After a grey winter with short days and heavy clouds in Belgium, the spring comes in to reward us somehow for a long-awaited nature colouring show.

(Pictures taken in Brussels)

I always take the time to look at the small details of colour combinations which are on display and change from one day to another.

One of the most fascinating show comes in when nature combines complementary colours.

The complementary colours result from combining a primary and a secondary colour according to their position on the Colour Wheel, where they stand opposite to each other.

There are three pairs of complementary colours: yellow and purple, red and green, blue and orange.

When they are placed together as a pair, the complementary colours make each other more active on one hand. On the other hand, they may “cry” or “scream” together.

That happens because they may generate some perception problems as the cones and rods of our eyes cannot handle so much information given by their wavelengths.

I took a number of pictures to illustrate the example of the first group: yellow and purple.

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