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Color Theory 101

Whether orange (a secondary color) has you at hello, or doesn’t quite attract your attention, you can’t deny the strength it has when correctly used in an room. I thought it would be fun to pull some of the pages from my color relationship notebook from a color theory class I completed a few years ago to show you a few examples of color relationships when orange is involved.

Here’s a modified triad. You are mixing various tints and tones on the color wheel in yellow-green, yellow-orange, and red-orange.

This is a complementary color scheme in orange and blue. Blue calms the intensity of orange, so there’s a nice balance here.

And this is what you’d call monotone in yellow-orange. Notice how muted and soft orange can become?

Isn’t it fascinating to see the color wheel in action? I highly suggest purchasing one (they’re around $3 at any craft or art supply store), and either taking a color theory class at your local college, or find something reliable online where you can learn the basic principles. I prefer the classroom experience myself, as you are able to receive honest critiques, which I find are essential to growth, at least for me. Plus, color theory class is more than creating binders and clipping from magazines. You have to do a lot of painting, sometimes with tears because the process can be strenuous, but in the end, 100% worth it. Here’s a little color theory intro to get you started…

(images from Holly Becker for decor8)

Posted by decor8 in Color Inspiration on June 26, 2007

Your comments...

  1. Mary Beth commented
    June 26th, 2007 at 5:49pm

    I love how you used Laurie Smith’s fabric line…so beautiful. Don’t you miss it?! I am hording yards of it still…

  2. Sion commented
    June 26th, 2007 at 6:03pm

    As someone who has never taken a color theory course I find these relationships between color to be utterly fascinating. I really enjoyed that post; I think I’m going to take you up on that suggestion to take a course!

  3. susan commented
    June 26th, 2007 at 6:27pm

    Fantastic post! I also have taken a color theory class. Oh, there’s a book that’s an absolute Bible of color theory, and I can’t remember where it is. It’s a small book. In any case, an analagous color scheme is my favorite color scheme, but not so much in the orange family, but in the blues, where you move from blue into violet and/or green, various shades and tints used together. Love that type of combination. With orange you’d use red and/or yellow, as they are next to orange on the color wheel. Always something interesting here! Enjoy the concert!

  4. The Crafty Weasel commented
    June 26th, 2007 at 6:35pm

    Ah colour theory. I have to tell you that I have resisted so much doing colour schemes by the theory and wheel! For my diploma in interior design, we had to make a colour wheel – but I still find it difficult to follow – this said, thank you for your links!

    I’m going to print it and I think I may try my own colour theory booklet – it seems like a great eye-brain training idea!

  5. beachbungalow8 commented
    June 26th, 2007 at 6:50pm

    oh man, i remember color theory. it is such an important class but really tedious. my work never looked this clean however! i think i was too worried about which frat party i was headed off to next! luckily, the information ‘stuck’

  6. erinn commented
    June 28th, 2007 at 9:07pm

    Out of all the various art, architecture and design classes that I’ve taken, I think I use what I learned in my color theory class the most. I still keep Josef Albers books around.

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