Finding Color With Split Compliment

I'm doing a painting of Skinners Falls Pool in Autumn. Couldn't get all the yellow greens that I wanted. Geneva Black to the rescue!
Most of the colors I was looking for are in the grid insert. The Split Compliment of Red Violet Mixed with Yellow. Each row is the colors at value mixed across.This is paint not digital. I started testing this with Ivory Black or should I say Blechh. Geneva Black gave more pure Green. 
I usually make these grids on the computer just to give me direction. 
Essentially this grid is a mix of re, blue and yellow with black of course the green side. Nice natural neutrals. There are a lot of these color accents in the image. 



  • CBGCBG -
    edited July 14

    This is not obvious to a newb like me.  Are you using the violet split complement for an underpainting?
  • @CBG
    The underpainting is done. Ready now to paint. I have a 'palette' for it. Strong on neutral yellows and blue greens. There was something missing. A lot of colors in this grid will work well with the strong those 'blue greens'. Mostly the right most 3 column and the mid 3 rows. Even some of the rusts on the bottom left to help define the waters edge. A touch of that lighter yellow violet as hi lights in the rough water on the left.

    I don't copy my photos. I use them as ideas. The painting will evolve from the structure layed down in the under paint and palette choices.

    Here's the under paint and palette notes.

  • The thing I like about that photo reference are the white tree trunks in the bottom right side and their reflections.
  • I like the yellow back light and yes, the reflected tree trunks are neat. Lovely ….
  • It's a fascinating colour scheme. Tricky to manage although you're certainly on top of it with the underpainting.
  • @GTO @joydeschenes @Abstraction @Suez
    Each of my paintings has a unique color set. The color set are made from the 12 color spectrum that is made from the same set of red, blue and yellow primaries. This is where the excitement is for me. 
  • @KingstonFineArt - that's very interesting. The parallel I think of is in movie design, although this is not the same thing. It would certainly create a sense of unity.
  • edited July 17
    Yes, very interesting, @Abstraction. "Split complementaries". Sounds impressive. However, if we use Mark's colour matching technique this stuff about split complementaries (a concept not explained in the OP) would seem redundant. Mark doesn't talk about it anywhere that I know of. And yet Mark's values/colours are so beautifully accurate.

    This thread is posted in the sub-forum "Color Mixing". I wonder if all this stuff about split complementaries is not confusing to beginners who are here to learn Mark's straight forward method of colour matching/mixing? 

    Anyway, what I find much more interesting are Mark's posts today about values:

    When I critique my students work 90% of the time I say this — Draw Mix Paint Forum 

    Mark's words here are spot on, concise and very helpful to beginners. Never mind about split complementaries (whatever they are). Let's get the values right. In this respect, the Australian tonalists, as you know, were absolutely spot on, too.  :)
  • edited July 17
    But what has all this got to do with Mark's teaching on colour matching/mixing? Mark doesn't talk about "split complementaries" anywhere that I know of. And if he had, I'm sure he would have explained exactly what he means by the term. 

    Was this notion really "generously" introduced by @KingstonFineArt
  • Hi @tassieguy
    As a 1 DMP painting newbie I don't mind Kingston's threads.

    I recognise that Kingston, Dencal, Abstraction, yourself and others are operating on a different level from myself. That is one of the best things about this forum. We beginners have Mark's excellent resources to work through plus a knowledgeable forum for critique and development. The advanced stuff is there when I'm ready to move on.

    It can be confusing when non-DMP advice is given to a beginner in a painting critique but Kingston generally does not do this.

    Let's keep the forum noisy with many voices. I'd be sad to lose either yourself or Kingston.
  • edited July 17
    Well, it used to be a lot noisier, @heartofengland. But in a good way.

    There is so much in Mark's free teaching that is incredibly valuable to beginners. And this site has produced many fine painters on the back of Mark's free teaching. People come here as beginners, just as I did, and I honestly think that we don't need to muddy the waters for them. Call me a DMP fundamentalist, but this esoterica about "split complementaries" is not part of Mark's teaching as far as I am aware.

    But, if it floats your boat, then enjoy.   :)
  • I can't wait to see this painting finished! It's such a great subject!
  • Mixing complimentary and split complimentary colors are the fundamental methods of creating neutralized oil pigments. The primary method. 
    The product of the modern age.
  • JcdrobJcdrob -
    edited July 18
    Hey Kingston, Nice to see you're still killin' it. I like your choice of 'palette'. 
    Look forward as always to seeing you develop this.
    Been busy makin movies but im planning a canvas of my daughter that I hope to post in due time.

    PS. My old account as JCDR was changed and I couldnt access it so I have a new moniker.
  • Welcome back. I remember the painting of your daughter in rubber boots.
  • @kingstonfineart - Could you please list all the actual colors you used? Thanks.
  • The Red Violet was made with Lukas 1862 Cad Red Deep and Lukas 1862 Cobalt Blue. More red than blue.
    The Yellow was made with Lukas Cadmium Yellow and 1862 Lemon Yellow. A transparent lightener.
    The black was Geneva Black.
    The White was 1862 Titanium White.

    You could get similar, but not the same, results with WN Mauve Violet. A bit lighter so the value mixes would be different.

    Here is an Adobe Illustrator mix. This uses idealized value for both colors*. I make these for directional cues if I'm stuck.
    *An Introduction to the Language of Drawing and painting Volume 1 : 1929  Arthur Pope Harvard University Press

  • edited July 18
    Yes, the actual colours used would be helpful. 

    And if someone is going to be talking about "split complementaries", it would be very helpful for beginners and the less knowledgeable in colour theory, if the meaning of terms such as  "split complementaries" and "splitting complements" were explained. I have an idea of what is meant, but some beginners may not even know what a complementary colour is let alone how to "split' them.

    For beginners who don't yet know much about colour, I would recommend looking first at Mark's video on colour mixing here:

    This video is an excellent demonstration of how to mix virtually any colour with a limited palette and Mark explains it all so clearly without any mention of esoteric terms like "split complementaries" which sound impressive but which will be meaningless to many folks who are new to painting. 

  • How is a palette the starts with the three primaries a limited palette? The primary colors of red, blue and yellow are the source of all color.

    Here's a link to a James Gurney video on painting plain air with a limited palette ...

    "For this painting I used ultramarine blue and cadmium red scarlet, together with white, and I left out yellow and green. The red and blue colors are near-complements, and I'm painting over a surface primed with yellow. The yellow is about 95% covered up, but where it peeks through, it energizes the color scheme like a pinch of spice."
  • edited July 18
    Yes, we all know about the three primaries, @KingstonFineArt. And even school kids know that you get green from mixing blue and yellow. But what is all this stuff about "split complementaries"? What does that even mean? Gurney doesn't talk about it and neither does Mark.  It sounds very impressive but can you explain what it means in simple terms for beginners who may not even know what a complementary colour is? For example, you might answer the following straightforward questions for their benefit:

    What is a complementary colour?
    What is a split complement?
    How do you split one?
    Why do you want to split them?
    What do you do with them once you've split them?

    Without basic explanations,  esoteric jargon such as "splitting complementaries" might impress some folks and be good for aweing beginners, but they won't be much help to them. 

    Anyway, your painting is looking promising, it's a great reference photo, and I look forward to seeing the finished work built on those "split complements". :)
  • You could do a goole search. But I'll give the short list
    Red and Green are complements. The colors adjacent to green are Yellow Green and Orange Yellow

    Blue and Orange are complements. The colors adjacent to Orange are Red Orange and Yellow Orange

    Yellow and Violets are complements. The colors adjacent to Violet are Blue Violet and Red Violet

    This is foundation color right here. Right click on an image and open in a new window for readability. Mixing for chromatic grays or neutrals with full intensity color. Full intensity is tout of the tube color.
  • edited July 18
    Thanks for that, @KingstonFineArt. I understand about complements already and how to use them and I'm very familiar with these sorts of colour charts.  And I'm pretty sure I understand what you mean by "Split complements". But others may not have understood, although the diagrams above go some way to explaining things.

    Your thread is titled "Finding Colour With Split Complement" But what is a "split complement"? There is something strange about the way you are using language here.

    How do you split a complement?  Explaining what you mean by this in the OP would have been helpful. If you want to say that by mixing (a) and it's complement (b) you arrive at (c)  then it can't be that hard to explain that in plain English that everyone will understand. So why the jargon? It's unfortunate because, once beginners absorb Mark's teaching on colour mixing, what you are trying to say (if it's what I think it is) could be a useful way of visualizing things. Especially in conjunction  with the colour charts you pasted above.   :)
  • My palette layout for this painting. 
    Top row Red Violet, Blue Violet, blue dual primary Cobalt and Ultramarine, Blue Green, yellow dual Primary Cad Yellow and Lemon (transparent), Yellow Orange and dual primary Cad Red Deep and Alizarin Crimson.
    Left side Rembrandt Transparent Red Oxide. A substitute foe Burnt Umber. Yellow Ochre and Geneva Black.
    Bottom Titanium white. Semi Neutral Blue, Semi Neutral Yellow, Semi neutral Red. 
    I can other colors I need on the fly.
    All the colors here were mixed from the three primaries except the left neutralizers.

  • KingstonFineArt - Thanks for listing the colors. In your first response, you listed 6 colors. In the second, showing a photo of your palette, you list 14 colors. You also state that all these colors, except for the left neutralizers, are mixed from 3 primaries. This is really confusing. 

    I think the most useful part of your color strategy, at least for me, is the color harmony one can get from a limited palette of only 2-3 colors, plus black and white. You are a skilled painter. 
  • I have a post on mixing neutrals with a link to my video on the subject. 
    I mix my whole palette from the three primaries and tube the color. I mix the 12 full intensity (top row) colors. 
    From the tertiaries I mix neutral blue, yellow and red. Bottom row. 
    All from 3 tube of primaries. Big tubes. 
  • OK, color me confused. 

    When you write that you mix the 12 full intensity colors, do you mean you mix from them or that you have created these 12 colors from three primaries?  What pigments do you use to create a cobalt blue?

    If you have a warm and cool blue, a warm and cool red, and a warm and cool yellow, it seems to me that is 6 colors, not 3. 

  • edited July 20
    It's not clear to me, either, which pigments are being referred to. But if someone, however good a painter they may be, is going to put themselves forward here on DMP as an authority on colour, then it's only fair that they express themselves clearly in plain English and state which pigments they are talking about. They would also be well advised to avoid esoteric jargon, or at least accompany it with plain English definitions. Otherwise it just looks like grandstanding.

    In the photo of the palette above, the top row is said to start with "Red Violet, Blue Violet". But what pigments are used for these? Or are they pure pigments like Manganese violet and Ultramarine violet? Who knows? We can't tell by just looking at the photo of the palette. And I'm ok with "Cobalt [blue]" and "Ultramarine" but what pigments are "Blue Green" and Yellow Orange"? 

    And I still haven't had a clear explanation of the term "split complement", although I can deduce what it means from looking at the charts posted above. But someone who is just starting out on their painting journey, and who doesn't even know what a complementary colour is, would have no idea what is being referred to. The complement of blue is orange but the term "split complement" sounds like you take one of these and "split' it. Whatever that would mean. With what do you split it? An axe?  :)  I know the answer but a newbie/beginner would probably not know. So why not make it clear for them? Otherwise, what's the point of all the jargon, charts and photos?
  • @Desertsky

    This is a full intensity 12 color palette made with Geneva paint. I added Cad Red Deep for temperature control. The bottom colors a semi neutral made fro tertiaries.

    Look at Mark's palette. Eliminate the brown. You're left with the starter for my 12 colors. Red, Blue and Yellow. You have every color on my palette. Note the warm and cool whites. That is for temperature moderation.

    My standard full intensity palette is 12 colors. I do add Dual Primaries where temperature control may be needed. Cooler yellow is used to moderate the warmer yellow. Still yellow. Still Blue. Still Red.  They aren't competing for color space on value only temperature. I will sometimes use only the Alizarin Crimson Dual primary no others. Or not use cobalt at all just ultramarine. Or use a mix of Cad Yellow and Lemon in one pile. I use my semi neutral mostly and tint with full intensities.
    I use this to find the palette for each painting. That's when I decide what to add on. This process its very economical in cost and time.

    I have 'found the palette" for nearly every painting I've done for 30+ years. You'll see is for this painting.

  • A split compliment is the color on either side of the compliment on the color wheel. For Red it is Blue Green and Yellow Green. Pigments are insignificant. There may be a million sites on the web that will explain this. Maybe thousands of books that explore these color naturals. 
  • edited July 20
    Why am I not surprised by your responses above, Kingston? You see, it's not about what you or I know, but about what others don't know. That's what's important here. But it seems to be all about Kingston and his knowledge and his "standard palette". These seem to be what we're supposed to be impressed with rather than your painting. And now you go and introduce more beginner-awing jargon such as "tertiaries", "temperature control" and "dual primary". Why?  And then you say that pigments are "insignificant". Well, they are not insignificant. They are highly significant. They are what gives paint it's colours.  And yes, there are a million sites on the web dealing with colour theory, but you appear to be putting yourself forward here on DMP as an authority on colour. If you wish to be taken seriously here on DMP as an authority on colour, then this is no way to go about it.

    Beginners, indeed anyone interested in learning more about colour, would do far better by watching Mark's videos on colour mixing.

    That said, I look forward to seeing your "split complement' painting. I love yellow and violet. They make the most wonderful harmonies. I see some of those harmonies in your reference photo and the block-in of your painting. Very promising.  :) 
  • Suez said:
    For Pete’s sake, using a warm and a cool version of primary colors is pretty standard usage in painting. Not a hard concept to grasp. 
    Now now, don't you start using simple and direct words, or appeals to common sense here. 

    We must, in view of the plebs, keep up appearances after all. 
  • @KinstonFineArt started this thread with the title "Finding Color with Split Compliment", which led me to anticipate it would be about a limited palette of perhaps 3 colors (one primary and two split next to the complement) and black and white. Instead, the palette consisted of, apparently, 12 colors and black and white. I know what a split complement palette is, and so I found the whole discussion confusing. 

    It seems that KFA is creating a wonderful painting with mainly yellow and near violets, but with other colors as needed. He is a skilled painter, but the description of the palette was confusing. To use both cool and warm versions of the same color is fine, but to describe this as only a single color leads to confusing the audience. 

    I use limited palettes as well, in order to better achieve color harmonies. I think this is what KFA has done, and the painting is very satisfying, color-wise.
  • @Desertsky
    I did not imply that I was making a limited palette. In the first image I show how I used a color chart of Yellow with it's split compliment Red Violet to 'find' a good yellow green. I mention that the Cad yellow made a great match for green with Geneva Black. Not Ivory or mars. Geneva Black is a good chromatic mix if you need black.

    The image show a color chart overlaying the reference image. There are clear color matches in that table. 

    I explained how I have found a painting's palette for nearly every painting I've done for over 25 year. I then show the palette I found for the painting. The palette may be a bit broad but it has what I need and little else. What the painting needs I should say.

    Why do I do this? I hate chasing color. I hate wasting paint even more. I really hate wasting time.
  • A lot of glare. Working from left to right. This pass will get another pass with better brushes. Going slow I don't have the stamina I used to.

  • You've orchestrated color wonderfully here.
  • @KingstonFineArt - I honestly misunderstood what you were posting. In the OP, you wrote "Most of the colors I was looking for are in the grid insert", so I thought this was a limited palette. Increasing my misunderstanding, you wrote about a split complementary, but only mentioned the red-violet; so I was waiting for you to mention blue-violet as the other half of the violet split. 

    I meant no disrespect, but wanted more information about the colors (or hues to be technically correct as encompassing color, value, saturation, and temperature). 

    I hope this lets you understand how easily it is to lead an interested reader astray. 
  • edited July 22
    I think that's right, @Desertsky. Those of us who think visually can forget that pictures illustrating our ideas may not immediately make it clear to others what our ideas actually are. So, as well as pictures, clear language explaining the pictures that illustrate our ideas helps people who read a post understand what it is about.  There is no question of disrespect in asking for clear explanations. If we are going to lob terms such as "split complement"  and "tertiaries' into an OP, it's only fair to others that we explain what such jargon means, because a lot of people just won't won't know. Many here are beginners. They are here to learn. Unexplained jargon can frighten them away from an OP that might otherwise have been helpful.
  • @Desertsky

    This color table was done in Illustrator and shows the simple mixes of the Yellow/Violet complimentary pair. Going in both direction. First Violet to the Yellow compliment and it's adjacent colors. Yellow Orange. and Yellow Green. The lower charts show yellow to Violet with it's adjacent colors. Red Violet and Blue Violet. That's a lot of Color/Values and color neutrals. Fairly straight forward.

    I don't use hue to describe my color. Hue is used to describe Cadmium and or colors made with synthetic color. I use color to describe my paints. Remember I use only three colors to mix my full intensity palette. You could equate Full Intensity with Saturation. It's a more traditional thing. I feel that the word saturation works better in the digital realm. I spent a long time in that world. For me Value. when dealing with paint, is best described as Color/Value. Value for me is dark to light void of color. For Example if I want a Blue Violet and Yellow Orange Neutral at value 2 on a seven value scale. I'd mix each color to the desired Color/Value of 2. I'd mix that together and know I'd get a neutral at color value 2. I know what the Color/Value is by measuring it against a value scale when the color is mixed. It's really simple.

    Value and Temperature are very relative things. Even color. They all depend on their surroundings. This is difficult territory. I only talk about temperature where it obvious.

    As for beginner's needs I have only my experience and learning to paint and as a teacher.

  • @Suez
    Remember it's  foundation color. The source not the end.

    I am off for a 2 week vacation. Visiting The Norman Rockwell Museum, The Clark and hopefully the Boston Museum of Fine Art. Where there are several Singer masterpieces. Maybe even a few days in NYC for The Met, MOMA, The Whitney. Wait! I might be too old for all that in one day. The Met it is.
    As if I'm not on vacation all the time. 
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