Tuesday, 17 November 2015


"For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction."

A force is a push or a pull that acts upon an object as a result of its interaction with another object.

According to Newton, whenever objects A and B interact with each other, they exert forces upon each other. When you sit in your chair, your body exerts a downward force on the chair and the chair exerts an upward force on your body. These are called action and reaction forces. The size of the force on the first object, equals the size of the force on the second object. The direction of the force on the first object, is opposite to the direction of the force on the second object.

Forces always come in pairs - equal and opposite action-reaction force pairs.

No, I haven't completely lost my mind. I heard this phrase in the course of my day and as so often happens I started thinking about it while I was painting. I use complimentary colours a lot in my work and it fascinates me that the balance of opposite colours is so crucial to the saleability of a painting.

Like Newtons law, colours come in pairs. My favourite combination is brilliant red/orange and turquoise. Another great pair is violet and lemon yellow. And another is deep blue and peach. Unlike Newtons law, the pairing doesn't require equal amounts of intensity or pigment, but the suggestion of the opposite colour must be there or the painting will seem bland or "off" in some way.

Let's say you have chosen warm skin tones in a portrait and you are now contemplating the background. I would go to my colour circle and find the predominant colour of the central focus, which in this case would be a warm peach or flesh colour. Looking across the colour circle I would discover a cool blue. I would then test swatches of blue until I reached the right intensity and tone. A light violet blue would give a fresh young look and a deep ultramarine would give more passion and intensity to the portrait. Either would be a complimentary choice depending on the mood you wish to convey.

Likewise with an landscape which is predominantly warm green, a few pops of crimson roofs or apples will add pizzazz but a suggestion of cool pink in the clouds will also suffice to create interest.

The painting above, YES I WILL YES, demonstrates the red/green complement. Although in this painting the amounts are roughly equal, that doesn't have to be the case. It is also important to take into account the intensity and impact of each colour. In this painting the cadmium red has photographed with more intensity than is present in the actual painting; bright red holds far more weight than pale green for instance. Some paintings may call for a more subdued look, however, in this case I chose the bright red to emphasize the thoughts and emotions of the girl as she prepared for her date.

Where else can you apply Newtons law to your art or to your every day life?

Does this give some insight into that contrary friend that always seems to contradict what you say?