How to get harmonious colours in paintings

Colour harmony is the theory of combining colours in a way that is harmonious to the eye. It's the 'magical glue' that binds all of the elements of your painting together. Without it, you can have the perfect subject to paint, a great base drawing, strong composition, and correct values, but end up with a painting that looks wrong. This problem is pretty common, and the chances are, it’s because the colours you’ve used lack harmony.

In real life, the light falling onto elements and the air surrounding them affects the colours we see. The colours on a misty day are completely different to those on a bright and sunny one. It is this ‘atmospheric veil’ of lighting conditions that unifies all the elements of a painting together.

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Originally from Belgium, Valérie has lived in the UK for the past 11 years. She works mainly in oils and enjoys working plein air.