Art and crafts will be impossible without color. Then again, choosing the best color combination for your next art or craft project is not always easy. Sometimes we don’t have enough colors, sometimes we have too many different colors. In any case, the seemingly super easy task of picking up the exact colors for a project can turn into a nightmare.

Selecting just that perfect combination of colors can be super easy as long as you get some extra information about the basic ways different colors interact with each other as well as with our perception and emotions. Although interpretation of color is highly subjective, there are color combinations that simply “work”.  The easiest way to find out which are these combinations is to get a basic understanding of the color wheel.

The traditional color theory was devised in the 18th century by Isaac Newton. He arranged seven colors around a circle (the color wheel) and after a series of experiments established which were the primary colors. Later, his theory was refined and expanded and today there are several different models of color organization. The one that is usually used in art and design is simply called RYB (red, yellow, blue). According to that model red, yellow and blue are the primary colors and all other colors can be created by mixing them (secondary colors).

color wheel

At this point, you probably wonder why you need to know which ones are primary and secondary colors. There is one very simple reason – the interaction between them plays a major role of human perception of color. Thus, finding out how different colors interact with each other will not only simplify the task of selecting the best color combination for your next craft project but will help you create truly engaging art or craft pieces.

Two of the most common relationships between color are the so called analogous relationship and complementary relationship. What are their effects on the viewer and how can these colors be used in art and craft pieces?

– Color adjacent to each other on the color wheel are called analogous and form analogous relationship. When used in art and craft pieces, they create a very stable base. Analogous colors are great for creating a general mood and feel of an artwork.

analogous colors

– Colors, situated opposite to each other on the color wheel are called complementary and form complementary relationship. Complimentary colors create the strongest contrast and thus – the greatest visual tension. Using complimentary colors is the easiest way to create a focal point in an artwork, and combining them can create a sense of dimension.

complementary colors

Understanding the two types of color interaction described above should make your search for the best color combination for your next craft project much easier. There are several other important color relationship systems that anyone involved in art or crafts should be familiar with. If you would like to find out more about color, check out my book Introduction to Mixed Media Crafts: Inspiration, Techniques, Tips and Ideas for Creating Unique Art & Craft Pieces.