Color Harmony Explained

Are your paintings dull and lacking life? Do you have trouble understanding what colors to use to make interesting combinations? Are you unsure how to create excitement with color? Are your paintings in need of a color infusion?

Here are the tools you need to add color harmony to your work and make your paintings sing.

Color, with its infinite combinations, is what makes your art exciting and unique. Start understanding and using colors that work.

Start Date:

September 23, 2014

Course Length:

4 weeks




Sharon Weaver (bio)

Course Materials (included in tuition):

View Course Schedule


What You’ll Learn:

  • Fundamentals of color
  • How to use different color schemes
  • How to create drama with color
  • How to design your colors to develop your own voice

Who should take this course:

  • This class is for everyone from beginner to advanced who wants to improve his or her art.
  • The lessons are not medium specific so any medium including watercolors, oils, pastel, pencils or mixed media can be used. No matter what materials you work with, a stronger understanding of color will improve your work.
  • All genres will benefit from this class.


  • Sketching paper or sketchbook
  • Pencils 1B, 2B, 3B, 4B
  • Eraser
  • Material for 4 paintings. Since any medium is acceptable you can use:
  1. Acrylic or oils on canvas
  2. Color pencil, pastel or watercolor on paper
  3. Your choice of materials (per teachers approval)


Course Syllabus:

Session 1:

Reading Assignment:

  • Read from page 11 to page 33 of Color Harmony by Margaret Kessler.

Homework Assignment: Do the practice demonstration no larger than 12×12 inches of a secondary color scheme on pages 33, 34, and 35. Note that most of this painting is purple and green, so it is a cool composition of colors with warm orange accents.

Session 2:

Reading Assignment:

  • In Color Harmony, read the rest of Chapter 2 through page 46.

Homework Assignment: Do the practice demonstration no larger than 9×12 inches of a complementary color scheme on pages 47, 48 and 49. Note that most of this painting is yellow, orange and red, so it is predominantly warm colors with cool green accents.

Session 3:


Homework Assignment: Using one of the color schemes from Chapter 2 in the book Color Harmony, apply the colors to your own reference and paint that subject using the chosen color scheme. Let me know which color scheme you are using. It can be (1) Primary (2) Secondary (3) Tertiary (4) Analogous (5) Complementary or (6) Monochromatic.

Session 4: .

Reading Assignment:

  • Read Chapter 4 in Color Harmony.

Homework Assignment: Using the same reference photo from Session 3, do a second painting using the complementary color as the dominant color. If the painting from Session 3 was predominantly cool it will now be mainly warm colors. If the first painting emphasized warm colors, then this one will emphasize cool ones. Refer to pages 68 and 70 and note the color scheme charts.

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