How often do you find yourself saying, “I wish I knew how to advance my artistic knowledge?” Here is the internet’s most expertly crafted explanation of harmony in art.
What Is Harmony In Art?
Cezanne stated, “When paintings are done right, harmony appears by itself. The more numerous and varied they are, the more the effect is obtained and agreeable to the eye”.
When we hear the word harmony, we may think about music and a particular song sung by a harmonious voice. This harmonic sound is pleasing to the ear and we can enjoy the feeling that it gives us. This is a pleasing arrangement of the elements or parts of the whole. All the notes and the pitch seem to work together to create a pleasing order. Harmony in Art is the same. In the painting on the left, the Dutch Master, Johannes Vermeer was a master at creating a harmonious blend of all the elements within a painting.
When All The Elements Of Art Work Together, The Result Is Harmony In Art.
This check list will eventually become second nature to the artist but will be well worth the effort if learned and understood for their meanings and practical applications.Paul Cezanne was correct when he said that harmony occurs when the artist has established important working relationships between all the elements of art and design. Sometimes one may feel uneasy about a painting, not realizing what is missing or what is perhaps wrong. The answer is usually in the design aspects of the composition or the way the color management is handled and is not harmonious or pleasing to the artist’s eye. To correct this the artist can go through their check-list. ‘Balance, texture, space, form, color, line, and movement”.
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Why Create Harmony In Art?
Harmonize your colors with a complement…
There are several ways to create harmony in art with color, using a common ‘toner’ is very popular. However which ‘toner’ the artist chooses is a personal decision. Using the complement of a color will generally retain the original hue, and an unwanted hue shifting can be avoided.For example, if it is important for the rose and the leaves in a painting to remain fresh rather than become dull and muddy, special consideration to the ‘toner’ must be given. The choice of toner, in this case the complement, allowed the color to stay true yet remain soft and quiet.
Harmony can create boredom if there is not enough contrast between the compositional elements or colors to stimulate the viewer’s interest. The artist can over- harmonize, that is, all the colors in the painting appear flat or uninteresting. Imagine a dull grey day, the same thing can happen to a palette of colors if they are too dull and lifeless.
However, sometimes the simple beauty of a monotone composition can offer interest through texture or line.
A simple reflection can offer great pleasure. Artists learn that everything to do with art is personal and relative to what the artist’s statement is. Creativity comes into play, when the artist is able to visualize a simple composition as a more complex one. The viewer either makes a connection with the composition or not, and at times the connection may be different from the original intention. What else could you add to this simple birdbath to make it more interesting? What about a ripple?
When all the elements work in harmony, we get a feeling that there is order to the composition. In the image at left, the analogous colors work in harmony creating a unified image. But there is another component that can create harmony. Could it be line? The strong vertical lines of the vines create harmony with and against the line of the horizon. Again contrast is created between the horizontal and the vertical. This equals balance. Which in turn leads to harmony.
The colors of this image relate to each other. The cool tones, teamed with the mist coming off the river create a ‘moody’ composition.
The lines of the bridge; the arches, the diagonals and strong verticals balance the horizontal planes creating a unified and balanced composition.
What could match the happy and summery mood of this image? Strong color contrasts create high energy and breathe life into a simple composition of oranges and leaves. The viewer can feel the warmth of sunshine!
When color creates mood:
Artists who wish to follow the traditional concepts of art, will learn to interpret the ‘rules’ and utilize them to suit our own artistic needs in the traditional sense. Imagine listening to a very bad selection of music where your brain is bombarded by what you perceive as noise? The same applies to harmony in art as it does to harmony in music. For the artist, the degree of harmony is a personal decision or choice and each viewer will reacts in a different way to any individual composition.
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What Is The Connection Between Harmony in Art And Color?
The colors of this brightly colored flower below are in harmony with each other. Mother Nature knows what she’s doing.
All the colors that make up this particular flower all share one common hue, yellow.
The colors range from yellow to red orange which is part of an analogous color relationship on the artist’s color wheel.
Rhythm and balance: In this garden scene, the fence, with its repetitive vertical lines provides rhythmic order and predictability to the composition. The rose bushes that grow at the base of the fence are masses of texture with complementary color, greens with splashes of pinks dominate the scene.
Color schemes are used by the artist to create color relationships that are harmonious or share common relationships. These ‘color’ schemes are pre-determined groups of colors that either sit side by side on the color wheel or are opposite to each other or equally spaced from each other. Each scheme is a simple recipe that the artist can use to help them create harmony. Interior Designers, colorists, and web site designers etc. all rely on color schemes to work with. These are the tried and true recipes for successful color relationships.
A pleasing composition gives the viewer an opportunity to view another world.
The mood is conveyed and the atmosphere is established through the play of color. The artist has been able to offer the senses a pleasurable experience when colors work together in harmony.
Harmony and Atmospheric Perspective in Landscapes
Nature has its own way to establish color relationships and harmony, it does so with light and atmosphere. Because these colors appear to be reduced in intensity, the artist when painting for this effect, would have to do something to the colors on the palette to make them work in a harmonious way.
If the artist was to paint this particular scene, they may choose to tone their palette with one of the earth pigments which is a tertiary color or with gray (black and white). The choice may be either or both.
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Harmonize With A Common “Toner” In Decorative Painting:
Creating harmony for pleasure – creating pleasing compositions…
You may ask why and how does the artist need to create harmony? There are several reasons for using this as an artistic design tool. First, it is used as a way for the artist to control the visual experience. To give pleasure to the viewer.
Harmony can be used to say and do many things. It can be used to create a unified and quiet composition or as a way to be bold. It can be used in such a way that it is interesting, or jarring. It can be used to stimulate and provoke.
But it is mostly used to create pleasure at some level and to speak to our appreciation of color, light and texture, line, movement, balance, etc.
In this painting, the artist first used a warm under-painting to establish basic harmony between the layers. Then in the developmental stage of the design, she uses a common ‘toner’.
This was the compliment of the orange hue which was the dominant pigment used for the rose. This allows the leaves to remain on the cooler side of the green spectrum which contrasts beautifully with the warmth of the large rose.