Here is a green wall where two pictures have overall tones in orange or orange-red.

How to Pair Wall Colors With Artwork

by Anya Deason

Whether you want to display a favored abstract oil or your child's watercolor painting, the backdrop used affects how the art is perceived. As with frame and mat color, wall color interacts with the artwork's hues. A wall color common to all pictures will unify the artwork grouping. As an active mom, you need a quick and easy way to arrive at an effective wall color to display your artwork. Lay the art side-by-side on the floor to make the common tone more evident to you. Choose a wall color that relates to the overall colors and tones in the art to direct attention to it and the room's best visual accents.

Green-Gray Overall Tones

Paired with complementary red -- its color wheel opposite -- green-gray offers a common, overall background tone to artwork. Consider green-gray walls if your room's artwork includes a landscape oil painting and three hand-colored landscape engravings. If most pictures contain the near complements cool green and coral, paint walls in light coral instead. Medium green-gray curtain panels function well as does a green-gray sofa with coral accent pillows. Orange-brown wood floors contrast with artwork greens, while spring-green accents coordinate with bright highlights.

Blue-Gray Overall Tones

Combined with complementary orange highlights, blue-gray is another common, overall background tone for artwork. Blue-gray walls establish warm-cool contrast or cool-toned harmony for art. For a room with a large seascape oil painting and five of your child's charcoal drawings, consider slate-gray walls, which contrast with light, warm-gray carpet. In a wide silver frame, suspend that favorite seascape oil painting over a fireplace. Hang your child's charcoal drawings in an asymmetrical grouping, interspersing antique-black and silver frames. Antique-black furniture and accents in brighter blue complete the modified, monochromatic look for the room.

Warm-Gray and Gray-Plum Tones

Warm-gray contains red undertones, which often overlap with purplish, gray-plums. Both tones are often present in architectural watercolor paintings or rocky landscape oil paintings. A series of landscape watercolor paintings, featuring a gray-plum sky and a yellow wheat field present an opportunity to utilize the complementary interplay of purple and yellow. Paint walls in medium gray-plum, adding a lighter sofa, darker pillows and light, Country-French furniture. Gold-silver frames blend with eggshell-silk mats, while also linking to yellow-toned artwork and curtains in eggshell-silk.

Yellow Ochre, Umbers, Orange-Brown and Earthen Red Tones

When the common background tones of artwork feature earthen hues, create a warm, analogous decor by pairing color wheel neighbors with the art. A red-roofed, Italian townscape oil painting and a group of sepia-toned etchings retain an overall brown tone, which corresponds with an umber leather sofa, orange-red accent pillows and an oriental rug in orange-reds and tans. Hang the bronze-framed oil painting and the cluster of sepia etchings on a tan, textured wall. For artwork with yellow-ochre tones, go for textured walls in yellow-ochre and antique gold frames with a greenish undertone. The greenish-yellow tones pair well with Indian-red accents.

About the Author

Based in Franklin, Tenn., Anya Deason has more than 15 years of decor-related experience, assisting leading interior designers and owning a custom frame shop. While working at Lyzon Gallery in 1999, she wrote descriptions of artwork for Sotheby's online auctions. Deason holds a Bachelor of Science from Tennessee Technological University.

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/ Images