The adjacent effect color residuals of the eye. With musical melodies we have 'progression'. I mean by this intervals of time between notes that allow the brain time to understand the tune. If all the notes were played simultaneously any melody would be incomprehensible. But in painting all colors are played both individually and together, depending on the position of the viewer, and they must work on both levels. As the eye physically moves between adjacent hues, a negative residual interferes with the 'melodic' appreciation. Note the rather sickly Fig.1 combination above. This can be overcome with a transitional or neutral hue as shown below.
As a practical example
This painting I did for the 'Bounty' series is a composition in blue and orange. Blue will naturally fight the orange if adjacent so here I separated them as much as possible. Even though the sea line appears blue meeting gold it is a neutral grey-black instead. The hat and coat are separated from the orange clouds by a neutral white. The notion blue always receeds is disproved here.
Like a play in a theatre or an opera a painting is the creation of an illusion - of a painter's particular reality. The dominant hue in the painting below (blue-white) suggests a mid-morning scene.
Here again, in this demonstration piece, it may appear blue is against the yellow -orange of the boat. But where they are strongest they are also furthest apart. This makes the painting easy on the eye and more 'melodic'.
Stained glass windows, the paintings of Mondrian and Roualt are modern examples of strong colors being separated by (black) neutrals. If you feel strongly that poetry should not be element in the style of painting you want to attempt then you can use this information to introduce jarring and suddenly surprising passages to your paintings. I call this the 'Hawaiian shirt effect'. To understand the mechanics of color means that whatever effect you desire can be realized and whatever you are doing, you are doing it deliberately. Trial and error is no way to pilot a plane or create a masterpiece.
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