Why you love those colors

By Brian @ Madaras Gallery

The paintings of Diana Madaras have been praised for their bold use of color. So I’d like to talk a little about some basic color theory in her work. In particular, I’ll discuss the striking use of complementary hues in two of her paintings.

RYB Color Wheel

Looking at the color wheel, two hues that are on opposing sides are said to be complementary.* When combined, the contrast between the two tends to make both look more vivid. For example, let’s look at Prickly Pear Bloom.

"Prickly Pear Bloom" by Diana Madaras

Thematically, this image has a lot of contrast in the subject matter. The delicate flower is set strongly against the sharp thorns of the plant. But another reason this one jumps out visually is the complementary color pallette. The greens and yellows contrast well versus the magentas and purples. So together, these thematic elements and color elements create a powerful image of opposites.

"Silhouette" by Diana Madaras

In Silhouette, we have a more subtle desert landscape. Yet this one still pops out at you, and that’s largely due to the colors Diana chose. In this case, the blues are the dominant hue. Not only does that give the desert a somewhat ghostly feeling, but it also contrasts with the orange/yellow tinge to the sky. This helps make a potentially soothing landscape seem more impactful and ethereal to the viewer.

So the next time you’re enjoying an artist’s work, perhaps take a moment to appreciate how the colors work together to create a unified vision.

*In painting, the traditional complementary color combinations are red/green, yellow/purple, and blue/orange.