Embroidered color wheel

Good morning, y’all! Today I have another post about color to round out the week. I have a special guest poster, my Expert Artist Consultant, who embroidered the color wheel below and wrote most of the post.

The color wheel in action (split stitch, cotton floss):

The three primary colors are in the center: yellow, red, blue. The secondary colors form the next circle. These colors are mixtures of two primary colors. Orange comes from mixing red and yellow. Add more yellow for yellow orange, more red yields red orange. The same holds for the other colors. I chose a range of oranges, greens, and purples to illustrate.

Complementary colors: Two colors which are opposite on the color wheel. One is a primary color, the other (its complement), is made of a mixture of the other two primary colors. Yellow and purple are complements. Ditto red and green, blue and orange. Very strong action here. When two complementary colors are juxtaposed they will practically jump off the page. To see this in action look at the color wheel. In the third circle next to each secondary color is the complementary color.

Almost complementary colors: Two colors which are almost opposite on the color wheel. Very strong action but subtle. Yellow and purple-gray (purple-gray = blue+red+yellow). Blue and browns. Red and olive greens. (Hannah: For example, this Hmong cross-stitch with a color scheme based on almost-complements teal and brown)

The final circle shows just a sample of tertiary colors juxtaposed to their almost complement. You can compare the difference between the action of the true complements on one side with the almost complements on the outside. Interesting, huh?

OK, I (Hannah) am going to jump in with more examples now. You can also take these almost-complementary colors into account when deciding on framing and mat colors for finishing your embroidery, in order to make your work really pop out.

Some examples of using tertiary colors for contrast in paintings by Titian (Tiziano Vecelli), an important 16th century Venetian painter:

Some examples from Vincent van Gogh:


Some embroidery examples with tertiary colors from Talliaferro Designs:

Neat embroidered secondary color wheels by other people:

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2 Responses to Embroidered color wheel

  1. Sharon Brodeuse says:

    I have thoroughly enjoyed your posts on colors. It has been a wonderful learning experience. I have not seen such a clear explanation of the color wheel and particularly the secondary and tertiary colors as visualized on the color wheel examples you’ve posted. I’m printing out these posts for future reference. And a special thank you to your resident Color Expert. – Sharon

    • Hannah says:

      Glad you enjoyed them. I do have several more in the works, but I’ll be spreading them out a little. Three is probably enough color theory posts in a row 🙂

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