Thursday, March 22, 2012

Color Combinations using the Color Wheel

A flower color wheel (photo credit:

There are many factors that play a role in creating a beautiful piece of living or silk art.  Size, shape, texture, form, and others.  But perhaps one of the more obvious factors is color, which is probably noticed by the untrained eye before most other factors.  Color has the power to relax or excite.  Sometimes we can be bothered by looking at something, or by being in a particular location, and not realize that we're bothered because the colors we are viewing or are surrounded by are arguing with each other.  Who wants to get caught in the middle of that argument?

By being aware of a few basic color principles, it becomes much easier to put flowers together that get along with each other.  So get ready for your science lesson for today!

(graphic source:

Here are some examples of the above principles shown in arrangements I've made.  Notice that you can use a hue or tint of a true color shade and still have the colors work together, such as using a shade of purple instead of true blue, or a darker orange to go with yellow.





So where does the color white fit in to all this color wheel talk?  You may have noticed that white isn't on the wheel.  White can be a color that intensifies the other colors placed with it, or it can be a total distraction.  Although it can technically "match" any color, sometimes it's best to use a shade of cream rather than a pure white.

White used to intensify

No white used

That's probably enough science for one day.  But here's two more pieces of free, unsolicited color advice.  One:  if it's a color combination you wouldn't be caught dead wearing, chances are it's not going to look good in a flower arrangement either.  Two:  if you're having a hard time choosing colors for an event such as a wedding, go stand in front of the paint chips at a paint store.  You can mix and match to your heart's content until it looks and feels right to you (and the color wheel is happy).  Then you can give the final choice paint chips to wedding party members or planners so they don't have to guess just exactly what you mean by "soft blue".

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