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Irish Florists > Floristry > Colour

Theory of Colour

Colour is made up of three primary colours, three secondary colours, and six tertiary colours. Colour harmony is based on which is based on the twelve colour wheel of 'true' colours. Each of the twelve are modified by the addition of white, grey or black.

Primary Colours Red - Cannot be made by mixing other colours
Blue - Cannot be made by mixing other colours
Yellow - Cannot be made by mixing other colours
Secondary Colours Violet - Mix blue and red
Green - Mix blue and yellow
Orange - Mix yellow and red
Tertiary Colours Red / Orange - Mix red and orange
Yellow / Orange - Mix yellow and orange
Red / Violet - Mix red and violet
Blue / Violet - Mix blue and violet
Blue / Green - Mix blue and green
Yellow / Green - Mix yellow and green

Colour Wheel

A colour wheel

The choice of colours by a florist is the most fundamental aspect of floral design. Colour suggests emotions and influences how we view things.

For example red is evocative of love, red and green suggests Christmas time to us, and yellow can evoke thoughts of Easter. The choice of colour is vital for florists.

Colour can be soft and gentle engendering a sense of calmness. Warmth and vitality can be suggested by vibrant colours. Colours interpret and convey.

Colour Wheel Construction

It is a good idea for florists to make their own colour wheel using water-colour paints. The only colours needed are, the primary colours, red, yellow and blue, plus black and white.

Create a large white card circle and mark it out with 'spokes' into twelve equal segments. Then moving out from the centre draw three equidistant circles. This will leave each pie segment with four sections. Working from the outer segment towards the centre.

these are for hue, tint, tone and shade. Mix the water-colours to produce the right colour for each segment. When the colour wheel is complete separate cut-outs can be made for each colour harmony so that when a cut-out is placed over the colour wheel a harmony is readily identified.

Colour Harmonies

It is crucial that a florist has sound awareness and comprehension of the relationships amongst colours and how to produce harmonious floral arrangements. There are eight generally recognised colour harmonies:

Monochromatic As the name suggests this involves the use of hues, tints, tones and shades from a single segment of the colour wheel Red/orange, cinnamon, rust
Red/violet, pink/violet, purple
Blue, pale blue, airforce blue
Complementary This colour harmony is derived by choosing two colours from opposite sites of the colour wheel Red and green
Red/violet and yellow/green
Blue and orange
Split Complementary This is derived by using a colour in combination with another colour on either side of the opposite colour. Red/violet opposite green & yellow
Yellow/green opposite red & violet
Near Complementary This colour harmony is made by choosing one colour and one of the two colours beside its' complementary Red/violet and yellow
Red and blue/green
yellow/orange and violet
Contrast Use a colour with one that is three full segments away in the colour wheel. Contrasting harmonies may be harsh Yellow and red
Green and orange
Orange and violet
Analogous This harmony is made up of three or four colours that are beside each other in the colour wheel but only includes one primary colour Yellow, yellow/orange, orange
Red, red/violet, violet, blue/violet
Green, blue/green, blue, blue/violet
Triadic Three colours that are separated by three full segments in the wheel. Triadic harmonies may be harsh so choose one dominant colour, with less of the second, and still less of the third colour Green, violet, orange
Red, yellow, blue
Blue/violet, yellow/green, red/orange
Tetradic This four colour harmony is derived by choosing colours that are separated by two full segments in the colour wheel Green, yellow/orange, red, blue/violet
Yellow, red/orange, violet, blue/green

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