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10 Color Combinations That Every Artist Should Attempt

Rose is a full-time freelance writer who frequently writes about education, special education, DIY projects, food, Milwaukee, and more.

What colors go well together in art?

What colors go well together in art?

Why Explore Color Combinations in Art?

One of my favorite parts of designing jewelry is experimenting with different color combinations. I'm always surprised when people have limited color palettes for their artwork. Although there are certain colors and color combinations that I choose more than others, I enjoy choosing new colors and experimenting with new combinations on a regular basis. I highly recommend that other artists do this as well. You will often be surprised by what works well. Have fun!


1. Turquoise and Red

I really can't explain why this color combination is so compelling to me. Almost an opposite side of the spectrum thing I suppose? It has that effect without quite the stark contrast that turquoise/orange and red/green have. If you haven't experimented much with turquoise or red before, you might want to explore them a little on their own before pairing them together. But don't be afraid to dive right in, too.


2. Pink and Black

For those of you who love pink, you probably don't have trouble exploring pink like I do. If you love pink and have already worked with this combination, consider pairing another color that you don't use much with black. This color combination always strikes me as classic because of the way that it reminds me of ballet. Tried and true, right? If you work a lot with pale pink or aren't in love with the ballet look, experiment with magenta or even an almost fuchsia shade of pink.


3. Pink and Green

The piece to the right is another color experiment that I did to explore pink a little more. I also explored lighter shades of green in this piece. I frequently work with medium-dark greens but hardly ever even glance at beads with light green shades. Although sea green is still not my favorite color, this piece makes me appreciate it a lot more than I used to. If you generally grab pastel shades for your chosen medium, pick up darker shades for this combination.


4. Black and White

How can you go wrong with black and white, right? This is another classic—combination with good reason. I love working with colors and don't visit this powerful neutral combination nearly as often as I should. The right pattern or design will convince you that there is nothing boring about neutrals. It doesn't have to be a complex pattern to still produce a striking effect.

5. Orange and Blue

I have to admit that I have not made a jewelry piece with this color combination yet so I need to follow my own advice here. My high school colors were orange and blue. While I grew to love it during the 4 years I was there, I don't feel the need to use these colors together a lot anymore. This does not take away from the fact that I think that this color combination is underrated, largely because many people shy away from orange. Orange is a wonderful color, especially when you pair it with its color spectrum opposite. If you can't get away from the fact that orange/blue is a commonly used school color theme, think tropical and pair orange and turquoise with other brights like yellow, magenta, and lime.


6. Color Study or Single Color Palette

This is a great opportunity to explore a color that you already love OR to explore a color that you need to work with more often. I started with the turquoise for this embellished cuff design, as pictured on the right, but have also worked this design in green, dark blue, red and purple, neutrals, and a tropical summer mix (yellow, orange, red, and dark pink). The last piece in the set drew me out of my comfort zone the most because I don't work with yellow very often. Have fun with your color studies. You'll have a whole rainbow of pieces before you know it.


7. Metallic Paired With Another Color

I think that almost everyone has a favorite metallic. This is a perfect opportunity to pair your favorite metallic with another favorite color to create a brand new combination for your art gallery. Or if you're feeling adventurous, use this as an opportunity to explore a metallic or other color that you don't work with very often.


8. A Modern Piece With Lime Green

I think that the 80's connotation makes a lot of people shy away from lime green. This is unfortunate because lime is a great color. See if you can get past this connotation by pairing lime with a color not necessarily associated with the 80s to create a modern piece.


9. A Prominent, Unique Neutral

When most people think of neutrals, their minds go to black, brown, and white. While I love all three of these colors, there's no reason that you need to limit yourself to them when it comes to the neutral spectrum. Throw olive green, maroon, or navy into the palette in place of black, brown, or white for your next piece, and see where it takes you.


10. Red and Green

I did create the above earrings with Christmas in mind. However, these earrings don't contain any symbols (Christmas trees, wreaths, elves, etc.) that are associated with Christmas. They simply contain Christmas colors. The earrings can be paired with a wide variety of clothing combinations so that they can transfer to virtually any other time of year. When you work with red and green, don't feel limited to Christmas themes.


Additional Ideas to Consider

Polka Dots

There isn't much to say about polka dots except that they're a lot of fun. If you're not ready to put multiple polka dot colors in one piece yet, stick to a single medium or color with dots.



Stripes are a lot of fun, too. Changing the colors or pattern of the piece will drastically alter the effect of the stripes. Don't be afraid to play around with it.


Big/Small Patterns/Pieces/Prints

The cuff on the right is a piece that I created for an Etsy team challenge. I combined jewelry-making components that I use frequently to create a completely new look. This cuff is much wider than the vast majority of the pieces in my collection.


Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on March 13, 2013:

Thanks, Sharkye! Orange and brown and brown paired with orange and dark blue are both great color combinations. Thanks for sharing! :)

Jayme Kinsey from Oklahoma on March 12, 2013:

Very enjoyable hub! I use mostly black and white in my art, but love to add a splash of color occasionally to really draw the eye. One of my favorite color combinations is orange and brown, which isn't seen too often outside of a Reese's cup! I particularly love saddle brown with pumpkin orange and cobalt blue. It has been the major combination in my decorating, and has begun to appear in my drawing and fabric art.

I loved looking at the pictures on here...great way of exhibiting how different colors can meld to create beauty!

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on March 11, 2013:

That's awesome. :) Thanks, Vicki!

Victoria Lynn from Arkansas, USA on March 11, 2013:

I love all these color combinations! Fabulous hub!

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on March 11, 2013:

KenWu, you're absolutely right about the importance of good color pairing. It is applicable to so many areas of everyday life.

Daisy, you're right about black and white. Black and white with a hint of silver for a wedding sounds lovely.

That's great, Shasta. :) Thanks!

Nice, kikalina. :) Thanks!

Thanks, Kathryn! Making jewelry and exploring other art mediums has gotten me to work with a lot of colors that I would not have otherwise. It's fun getting to experiment like that, and it can make you more open to using those colors in other areas of your life.

Suzie, thanks! I love all of the color combinations that you mentioned. I could write many more parts to this article with additional suggestions. The possibilities for color combinations are endless.

Suzanne Ridgeway from Dublin, Ireland on March 11, 2013:

Hi Rose,

This is a great hub! Color is something I love and mixing combinations together in accessories, clothes, interiors . .A few other ones I love are chocolate brown and light blue/ turquoise, brown and lime green and turquoise and coral. White I throw into the mix too sometimes. Love your jewelry and turquoise and lime green are my favorite colors! Great job with lots of great tips as always!! Votes, Interesting, Useful, Sharing, Pinned!

Kathryn from Windsor, Connecticut on March 11, 2013:

I'm not an artist, although I have gotten into arts and crafts in the past, but I love color! The turquoise and blues are my favorite, but of course would not be going out of my comfort zone. I have come to appreciate some colors tht I don't normally care for, such as orange. I would not want a wall painted orange, but an accessory piece would not be out of place. And I like the combination of orange and blue!

This is a great article, and I think anyone who works with, or enjoys color, will get something from this.

kikalina from Europe on March 11, 2013:

I particularly like Orange and blue. Thanks for this great hub!

Shasta Matova from USA on March 11, 2013:

I like mixing and matching colors to get different combinations. You've provided some great ideas here.

Chantele Cross-Jones from Cardiff on March 11, 2013:

Great ideas, Black and white will always be a classic! I had a whole black and white (with hints of silver) wedding

KenWu from Malaysia on March 11, 2013:

Great tips. I believe not only artist but everyone should also know how to apply good combinations of color. Colors are part of life, think about the cloth that you wear.... do the colors match? !

Voted up and everything except 'funny.' :)

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on March 11, 2012:

Thanks Deb! I'm so glad that this is helpful for you. I'm glad that someone else understands that.

Deborah Neyens from Iowa on March 10, 2012:

This is great! And I know what you mean about high school colors. Mne were black and red and although I loved the combination at the time, I just can't do it any more.

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on April 14, 2011:

Thanks! I got inspired to try it a couple years ago when I found out that one of my cousin's favorite color to wear is green and her all time favorite color is pink. I've been having fun with it ever since.

storybeader on April 13, 2011:

I don't think I've used pink and green together before. Nice! {:-D

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on April 12, 2011:

Thanks Pamela! That's awesome that your office is turquoise and red. It's amazing how just a few hints of those two colors can be so perfect.

I agree, Alma!

Alma Cabase from Philippines on April 12, 2011:

Orange and blue is a good combination.Their intensities are almost equal as they blend which makes it very good to look at..

Pamela N Red from Oklahoma on April 12, 2011:

I have always loved turquoise and red together. I decorated my office in those colors. The walls are white so it's not too much; just accents of both colors.

Great article. Welcome to Hubpages!