Using Analogous Colors on a Color Wheel

Challenge yourself as an artist by using analogous colors on the color wheel when painting.

For those of you new to art, wondering what analogous colors are? Simply put, I’m teaching you how to use colors that are adjacent on the color wheel to increase your understanding of how color works in art.


analogous colors on a flowerDisclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

Learning How To Use Analogous Colors

Last week I wrote about “How To Paint With A Limited Palette”. If you haven’t read it, you’ll want to start go back and read that first to better understand why you should use analogous colors.

In that article I encourage artists to challenge themselves by limiting the color palette used. One of the ways to accomplish that is by using a color wheel. So today I want to share some tips on how to paint with analogous colors using a color wheel as your guide.

Color Wheel with analogous harmonies

Using The Color Wheel To Find Analogous Colors

I love utilizing a color wheel – it’s a tool no artist should be without. It helps me keep colors within a certain range for a harmonious look. Different types of color combinations that you can create with a color wheel are monochromatic, triadic, complementary, analogous, and orderly.

I love utilizing a color wheel – it’s a creative tool no artist or maker should be without

In this case, we’re using analogous or adjacent colors as another way of limiting your palette. By choosing no more than five consecutive colors from the wheel, you can keep them visually close to each other to create the look you want for your painting.

"Color Computer" Color Wheel with suggested color mixes

Using Analogous Colors to Convey Emotion or Mood

Check out this example my painting entitled  Encroaching Fall  with the reds removed. The range of colors represented here goes from blue, blue green, green, to yellow-green, and yellow on the color wheel. These analogous colors keep the painting visually simple, making it more restful to the eye. Notice how keeping a narrow range can help you define what emotions are being expressed through your art.

"Encroaching Fall" limited palette painting demonstrates the use of analogous colors

As you can see, Encroaching Fall, which is mostly a variety of greens is restful; similarly, blue can become romantic, reds can be passionate and stimulating. So think about what mood you want to express before you begin painting, to help guide your choice of color. You can even do thumbnail mock-ups to help determine where you want to go with it. Of course, the contrast of light and dark in a painting will help with the overall feel and final result.

Finally, it’s good to know how to limit your palette to push yourself as an artist, and hopefully learn a lot of interesting things as you do. If you don’t have a color wheel, you will definitely want to add one to your collection. Below I’m sharing a few options for purchase online.

Check out these Color Wheels on Amazon or click the images below to shop:


Try it! Or, better yet, if you’re a fan of DIY, making your own color wheel is the surest way to learn how to mix colors and discover the subtle nuances that you can get in the process.

Give that a try and let me know how using analogous colors works for you, by commenting on my YouTube channel or Facebook page. Stay creative!