Saturday, October 18, 2014

COLOR THEORY 101 - How to use color well - Tutorial #1

COLOR...We are surrounded by it every minute of every day. 

We know which colors make us happy...and which do not. 

We know which colors we're wearing when someone tells us, "You look great in that!"
And we know the outfits we'd LIKE to love, but we don't feel good in them.


Color evokes emotional and physical responses. We associate it with people, memories, places...

Though we know what we love when we see it...many of us have trouble knowing how to use color properly in certain applications.

Beautiful, saturated blue.

Via Pinterest - Kissing Under Spiderwebs

For example, my very favorite color in the world is magenta, or red violet. 
I could eat that color with a spoon. Every flower I want to choose is some shade of magenta.

red violet
Image found on Pinterest from Tumblr - no source found.
Please contact me to add credit for this photo.

But, I will not paint the outside of my home magenta. Or even a small room. And I probably won't buy a winter coat in that color. 

On the other hand, a front door...a scarf...a throw...might be just perfect in magenta. 

Color can be soothing or exciting!


How do we use color successfully in our everyday lives? 

How can we wear our favorite colors without looking like we just escaped from prison or the circus has come to town?
How can we use them in our homes without getting nasty letters from the neighborhood association?

Image found on Pinterest from Tumblr - no source found.
Please contact me to add credit for this photo.

You CAN use color intentionally and successfully. Color does not have to be intimidating. Within a short time, you can be a color maven!

via  pinterest from

This is the first in a series of posts in which I will share information about color.* 

In subsequent posts, we will explore color in greater detail; each post will build upon the information learned in the last post. 

You will gain a better understanding of color and ways you can 
achieve the results you desire using the colors you prefer!

Color is NOT rocket science, but there is some very interesting physics involved.

The best way to begin is to assume you have no knowledge of color. (Please bear with me if you already know this. Consider it a refresher course!)

First things first: 


Light contains all color - a full spectrum. defines spectrum as: an array of entities, as light waves or particles, ordered in accordance with the magnitudes of a common physical property, as wavelength or mass: often the band of colors produced when sunlight is passed through a prism, comprising red, orange, yellow,green, blue, indigo, and violet.

More simply, a spectrum is all visible colors in a specific order.

You have seen a spectrum in a rainbow...

...and maybe you remember with a prism back in junior high school science class...

dispersion of white light

image via

There is a handy acronym to help remember the visible spectrum order:

Roy G. Biv 






(blue violet)


There are also invisible colors in a spectrum - infra-red, which is ordered before red, 
and ultra-violet, which is ordered after violet in the spectrum.

Of the Roy G. Biv colors, there are three PRIMARY COLORS; Red, Yellow and Blue.

Primary colors are the basic colors from which all other colors may be mixed. 
We cannot mix any colors to get red, yellow or blue. They are our starting-point colors.
Using light, red, yellow and blue can combine to make all the spectrum. 
(NOTE: This can be a bit difficult with paint pigments!)

This color wheel illustrates the order of the spectrum:

3-primary color wheel chart with complementary colors

Notice the placement and relationships between the primary colors to each other on the color wheel. They form a triangle. They are equidistant to each other. 

If red, yellow and blue are primary colors, then mixing them together in equal amounts will theoretically give us the secondary colors; orange, green and violet. The secondary colors are also equidistant to each other.

If we mix equal amounts of the secondary colors, we get even more colors - the tertiary colors. 

The tertiary colors include red orange, yellow orange, yellow green, blue green, blue violet, and red violet



Yellow Orange


Blue Green

Blue Violet

artist color mixing chart with secondary and tertiary colors

The colors on the color wheels above are also called pure colors, or saturated colors

(SIDE NOTE: Most of the colors we use in everyday life are not pure, saturated colors, but grayed down, darkened or lightened versions of them.)

In addition to the primary, secondary and tertiary colors, the color wheel is divided into two equal segments; warm colors and cool colors.

Warm colors: 
All the colors that fall between red and yellow

analogous warm
Cool colors:
All the colors that fall between green and violet

analogous colors

via Pinterest

NOTE: Red-violet and yellow-green can be perceived as either warm or cool.

If you have not yet noticed...
color is very orderly and balanced!

If you love order, balance, and everything in its place, this tutorial has probably been very easy for you to understand. If you're a bit more serendipitous, don't worry. Color has all kinds of fun surprises, and you will learn to use it intentionally in your designs. Though there is order, there is plenty of room for creativity, fun, and the unexpected. 

Knowing "the rules" will help you create harmony in your color schemes. 

Knowing when to break the rules can result in very dramatic results!

Next time, we will discuss:
  • Complementary colors
  • Analogous colors
  • Color terminology

We will define some basic "buzz words" to help us understand color better.

*Note: This is an updated revision of a series of posts I did way back when...probably 12 people read them. 

Words for the Day:

John 1:5
This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.

Genesis 9:16
Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.

Possibly Linking With:
Sundays at Home
Sunday’s Best
Nifty Thrifty Sunday
Mod Mix Monday
Make it Pretty Monday
Amaze Me Monday
Make it Monday
Nifty Thrifty Tuesday
The Scoop
Wow Us Wednesday
What’s it Wednesday
Vintage Inspiration Party
Vintage Inspiration Party
Vintage Inspiration Party
Cottage Style Party
Outside the Box Link Party
Under $100 Link Party
Treasure Hunt Thursday
Share Your Cup Thursday
Feathered Nest Friday
Furniture Feature Friday
Frugal Friday
Junkin’ Joe
Thrifty Things Friday
Party Junk