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Friday, July 20, 2012

Colorful Perspective

P= primary, S= secondary, T= tertiary. 
"Colors must fit together as pieces in a puzzle or cogs in a wheel." ~Hans Hofmann 

My friend suggested a topic for my blog- and it's a good one, especially seeing as how I took a course in makeup artistry recently.  She's says she's looking for suggestions about how to pick makeup colors in relation to the colors in your clothes.

Before we get started, here's a rather interesting and important fact; years ago during a department store makeup application I learned that just because you wear a certain 'family' of colors in clothing doesn't mean that's the family of color for your makeup.  I had been thinking that I just didn't look good in makeup any more- turned out I was just wearing the wrong colors. In terms of clothes, I wear cool muted colors, but that day I learned that my makeup needs to be muted and neutral/warm.  One of my best lipsticks is a pale, coppery color. If I were to put on a dress in this color I'd probably look sick.  Put me in a slate blue dress and I look great.  Put me in a blue-based pink lipstick and I look dead. Now, if I put on the slate blue dress with the pale coppery lipstick- or even a warm pink- I look my very best. Go figure.  I learned in my makeup artistry class that the majority of people have olive undertones, so don't be surprised if you need neutral or warm colors. Cool, or as they say in makeup, 'pinky-beige' is fairly rare.  If you don't live near me and thus can't hire me for a makeup application, then go to a few makeup counters and ask for makeup applications, and discuss whether you need warm (olive,) cool (pinky-beige,) or perhaps like me, olive/neutral.  Or hire a local makeup artist. Or just do some experimentation for yourself. So, now on to the business of combining your colors….

In makeup artistry school we were taught to use the standard artists color wheel to determine visually interesting combinations- and it works beautifully for our purposes here, too.

First, a little primer on color: as you may know, the three primary colors are red, blue and yellow.   There are 3 secondary colors, which are two primary colors mixed- red plus blue makes violet, red plus yellow makes orange, blue plus yellow makes green. There are 6 tertiary colors- they are a secondary color mixed with a primary- red-orange, yellow-orange, yellow-green, blue-green, blue-violet, and red-violet. (See illustration above.)

Another important point- remember that for many colors there are warm and cool versions- so when I use 'violet dress' as an example, this assumes you would choose a warm or cool version to fit your needs.  Green, red, purple- all these have the potential for both warm and cool versions. There are even fairly cool versions of yellow. And also, my examples assume you've chosen the proper intensity or brightness for your coloring. Ok. Moving on.

If you look at the color wheel (less than $5 at your local art store) you'll see there are different combinations for 'harmonious color schemes.' One is complimentary, or colors that are opposite on the color wheel- such as violet is opposite to yellow.  Then there's split complimentary- lets take violet again-  for split complimentary we use the two colors on either side of the opposite or complimentary color- in this case, as the opposite is yellow, the two on either side are yellow-orange and yellow-green. There's also the triad- three colors on the color wheel that form a triangle- or the two colors 1 farther out from the split complimentary- again with the violet, this would be violet, green and orange.  See? it makes a triangle. 

In makeup class we were taught that we can choose from these different combinations to have a more visually interesting outcome.  This can also be done with your clothing- say you're wearing a green top- you can choose a purple eyeshadow and a coppery lipstick.  This would be your classic triad combination. (If copper isn't your color then a nude or other very muted lipstick that won't interfere with your color scheme. Or if you're into it, a purple lipstick.)  Or you could choose a complimentary scheme- red-orange top with a blue-green eyeshadow. If it's right for you, also a red-ornage lip color. Personally I like to be careful with blue or green shadows if you have blue or green eyes- I like to be sure the color you choose is duller, or more muted than your eye color, or you risk the eyeshadow 'wearing' your eyes- making your eye color look 'dull' by comparison.  Done wrong, all you see is the eyeshadow. Done right, it can be very, very pretty.  

Another option is an 'analogous' combination- between 2 and 5 colors right next to each other on the color wheel.  And lastly, there is the monochromatic option- the same color- possibly varied with tint, tone and shade, and different textures. This can be a very sophisticated look.

Also- remember that these colors can be as bright or muted as suits your coloring and taste.  The differences can be very subtle, but they'll still be effective. 

Happy Dressing!