"Gold in the Hills"
First I would like to preface this post with a personal bias, this is one of my newest "favorite" paintings. There are always a few paintings that I am particularly happy with, it changes all the time, this just happens to be one of them at the moment. Being a full time professional artist these favorites come on rare occasion, for they must stand-out among the rest, for reasons not always clear to myself.
This painting has a great sense of harmony, probably one of the reasons I like it.
Anyway, let's talk about color harmony. Finding harmonies in artistic ventures is not all that difficult… honestly. The simplest harmonies are monotones. I would daresay that it's impossible for a monotone NOT to be harmonious, almost by definition. Moving from one side (monotone) to the other (a full-color spectrum,) however, is a completely different story. Most artists become comfortable with a narrow range of colors, the stick with them, and learn them well. Not a bad idea, and helps paintings maintain a certain cohesive quality. From what I've noticed the more mature the artist becomes (not just older, but more experienced) the more they tend to experiment with pushing the harmony envelope. Perhaps due to boredom, or perhaps because he/she has mastered the other colors and feels that they need additional growth. Regardless, the fact is that the closer one comes to a full-spectrum the more difficult harmonies become. Nature somehow finds a way to push colors to their very limits in nature, while still maintaining a harmony. Nature is the great harmonizer, but I find that perhaps nature plays tricks on us, as artists (or perhaps it tricks us into thinking we've been tricked. ;))
Harmonies are achieved by identifying the colors in a given scene and restraining the compliments. Sounds simple enough. But if you think about it, trying to achieve a "full spectrum" harmony AND restraining some of the compliments is impossible, since full spectrum means using all colors. I venture to say that it is impossible to use all colors, especially given that we are lacking with our imperfect pigments. Is attaining the impossible really the goal? I say no, it's getting as close to it as possible, the trick is, still making it believable!
Kind-of a rambling post, sorry.