The challenge for January/February is to use just 2 Complementary Colours

Complementary colours are from opposite sides of the colour wheel. 

At its simplest these are red/green, or yellow/violet, or blue/orange, but each intermediate colour also has its own complementary.

The first challenge of 2023 is to produce your art with just two “complementary” colours (and the colours you can produce by mixing them).

The use of white is allowed for creating tints (if not using watercolour).

Please do not use a coloured ground for this challenge as this would be introducing a 3rd colour.

Limited palette but free choice of subject

You can choose absolutely any subject – landscape, still life, portrait, nature, interior, figures, street scene or abstract – but please limit yourself to using just two complementary colours (plus white).

Hints and Tips

In their pure form complementary colours form a vibrant contrast. When mixed they will tend to neutralise each other – a range of muted versions of each colour or a neutral grey.

Working with just 2 pigments your work could still be bold and colourful – or you may choose to mix more muted colours to produce a harmonious result.

You don’t have to select true “chromatic” colours, feel free to use two pigments which are rough approximations for complementary colours.

If you haven’t tried to use a “limited palette” like this before, don’t be scared, just give it a go – you might be pleasantly surprised at what you can achieve! (If you are unsure where to start, try playing with some complementary pairs and see what colours they create when mixed in different proportions, before choosing which pair to work with).

These opposites might sound discordant, but they can often be found in nature – e.g red berries on holly, yellow and violet on flowers such as pansies or irises, and blue and orange on a kingfisher. But this challenge is not just about painting examples such as these – the key element of the challenge is the limit of just two colours.

THE CLOSING DATE FOR ENTRIES IS 28th FEBRUARY – by 12:00 noon please


A voting form will be added at the bottom of this page on 1st March.

Please come back and add your vote and comment. All comments moderated and posted anonymously.


Click on the images to view sharp and full screen.

Jackie Curtis
MEADOW
Print from Foil Block
15 x 14 cm
Purple and Yellow
Rob Shuttleworth
SATSUMAS AND GINGER JARS
Oil on canvas board
10 x 8 inches
Cadmium Orange and Ultramarine Blue (and Titanium White)
David Daggar
CLEVEDON PIER
Digital Photograph
Pat Preater
QUIET READ
Acrylic
6 x 6 inches
Blue and Orange
Ken Church
SELF-PORTRAIT IN 2 COLOURS
Acrylic 20 x 30 cm
Cadmium Yellow and Lilac (and white)
Anne Farmer
SUMMER READING
Digital drawing
Orange and Cyan