Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Harmony and Discord - A Concise Color Tutorial

I'm all for putting unusual colors together and making things deliberately not match. HOWEVER. If you've ever wondered how some people can put a bunch of stuff together and it looks good while other people put a bunch of stuff together and it looks like a bunch of stuff....this may be why.

If you look at a color wheel you will see that certain colors either go together or stand out together. Colors next to each other complement each other while colors farther apart make each other stand out.

Colors that are not even on the same color wheel tend not to do much for each other. Look at the bright red and the pastel green, for example.

Here is an example in the nail polish and decal world.

Here we have Color Club Tangerine Scream on the left with some cute neon skulls and hearts and China Glaze Sex on the Beach with some pretty purple paisleys, hearts and leaves on the right.

Funny how neon goes with skulls and pretty goes with leaves. You don't often see pretty pastel skulls or screaming neon leaves.

Although I love putting things together that totally don't match just to make a point, you can see how each decal set and color do nothing for each other when they are with their not-perfect mate.

You will soon get a "feeling" when you put things together that are in the wrong color wheel. Try it out with some of your clothes, shoes and especially nail polish.

Kandinsky wrote about art, spirituality and color and one of his tenets is that the eye will react to color and from that comes a feeling. When color is in discord you will feel irritated. When in harmony you will feel a whole host of other emotions.

Discord; I notice the edges lifting and the background color looks muddy. Colors are uninspiring. I'm looking at my cuticles. I feel irritated.

Here are the colors and decals in harmony.

On the left it looks fun, young, exciting and happy and on the right it looks pretty and chic and modern and restful. I don't notice the edges of the decals as much and my cuticles look fine.

Isn't that cool? I love working with color and design for this reason. If you feel irritated and negative, something's not in harmony. If you feel happy and have a whole host of descriptive words coming to mind, it's absolutely working!


  1. very interesting I love this post

  2. I totally agree with Kandinsky on color. Color really affects my feelings. I used to tell people that and they thought I was nuts. I can't wear orange in clothing. I feel nervous and upset. I can wear it on my nails though. Browns make me feel very depressed. Yet I love the color. Strange but true.

  3. True for me too. I can't wear certain colors in clothing - I feel ugly or not like myself. It's easier to carry it off on the nails, or to get a nail color that contains something else too, like a shimmer or a duochrome that makes it work.