August 15, 2013
Analogous color

Adjacent colors on the color wheel illustrate an analogous color scheme

On Tuesday we briefly introduced the color wheel. We covered what primary, secondary, and tertiary colors are, and introduced the idea of color harmony. One way to arrange colors on a color wheel to create harmony is to use an analogous color scheme.

Analogous colors are located next to each other on the color wheel. Usually, it is a grouping of 3-5 colors that sit adjacent from each other. They can range from a group of warm colors to a group of cool colors, or even a group that mixes the two together.

In order to illustrate analogous color schemes in a way that most people can process, we’ve grabbed a couple of examples from famous works of art that use a predominantly analogous color palette.

Analogous Color

Van Gogh’s sunflowers use an analogous color scheme.

Our first example is the iconic Sunflowers painting by Vincent Van Gogh. I think that history is on our side when we say that the colors in this painting are pleasing to the eye. As a famous work of art, it stands on it’s own in this regard. Can you identify the colors being used? We have a nice range of analogous colors appearing. Orange, yellow-orange, yellow, yellow-green, and green are all adjacent on the wheel and appear in the painting in a delightful way. This palette mixes the warm yellows and oranges with the cooler green.

Warm analogous colors

Rothko’s painting is a swelteringly warm analogous color palette

Rothko presents a very warm (almost sweltering in my opinion) analogous scheme with his painting to the right here, utilizing red, red-orange, orange, and a touch of yellow.

Monet’s water lilies are quite the opposite in a cool, calming blue green spread.

Cool Analogous Colors

Monet’s cool analogous color palette

Now, this can indeed translate to color choices in architecture and design. You can express these colors through the materials chosen, paint colors on the wall, and even accessories throughout the room.

Here is real example, from a kitchen renovation project that NEDC completed in Arlington. You will notice that the warm tone of the wood translates to the orange on the color wheel. The painted walls and soffit translate to the yellow, and the kitchen island is blatantly a yellow-green. These colors are all sourced next to each other on the color wheel, and create a harmonious environment. Do you think that the colors which appear in this room are similar to those which appear in Van Gogh’s sunflowers?


Analogous Color

Orange-yellow-green analogous color scheme, similar to Van Gogh’s Sunflowers


Published August 15, 2013 | By