Color is very important to the overall balance and composition of a painting. First learning to mix color is a vital part of the painting. But balance with color, that is using a basic color scheme allows the painting to work as a whole. Learning about color schemes begins by going back to the color wheel.
By using the color wheel, we can learn some of the basic color schemes which are: triadic, split complementary, complementary, analogous, and monochromatic.
A triadic color scheme is three colors equally distant from each other. The colors form a triangle on the color wheel as you can see in the illustration. Moving the triangle around the wheel will allow you to find the triadic color scheme.
A monochromatic color scheme is one color and its tints and shades.
A complementary color scheme uses two colors opposite each other on the color wheel. For example the color opposite yellow is purple, the color opposite red is green.
A split complementary color scheme uses one color and two colors opposite this color but splitting either side of the direct opposite. An example would be red, yellow green and blue green.
An analogous color scheme uses colors located adjacent to each other on the color wheel. An example would be red, red orange, orange, yellow orange and yellow.
All the color schemes can include tints and shades of the colors. Instead of red, we might use a lighter or darker shade of red and still obtain the same results using the tints and shades of other colors to create the color scheme.
In composing your painting be aware of the colors that will work together to give it harmony and balance. After selecting the colors you will begin to see how they will interact throughout the whole painting.