Learning to use Primary, Secondary, Tertiary and complementary colors can enhance your paintings or drawings beautifully. Primary colors are red, yellow and blue. All other colors can be mixed using these primary colors. Complementary colors are opposites of each other on the color wheel.
An artist can use complementary colors to enhance each other or to mute each other. If an artist is choosing to make a color look brighter and more intense...adding a splash of it's complement or opposite can do the trick. If an artist wants to make a color less vibrant...adding it's complement when blending the color can tone the vibrancy down a notch.
For example, I love bright colors...but a little can go a long way. Using pops of color next to each other can add the excitement you are looking for without overwhelming the eye or the senses.
I recall how I was painting a brilliant fall landscape and used purple to tone down bright fiery oranges...and when I also wanted those same fiery oranges to "pop" I placed dollops of cerulean blue nearby.
Take a look at this painting of Sunflowers I just completed. Notice how the deep blue background, intensifies the bright yellows and creams in the petals. I wanted this painting to be very vibrant...and used the concept of complementary color to achieve this goal. I also mixed colors to create depth, and to make the Sunflowers "pop" on the canvas.
Have fun experimenting with all of the amazing colors you can create, and learning how to use them for the greatest visual impact.