The art of plating: a point-by-point color guide.

Plating. Color wheel. Pointillism.  And what A Sunday on La Grande Jatte teaches us about serving a feast of colors for the eyes.


Georges Seurat colors Plating A Sunday on La Grande Jatte_Seurat_1280px-Georges_Seurat_-_A_Sunday_on_La_Grande_Jatte_--_1884_-_Google_Art_Project1-Minute NomNom

What is a feast if it is not a visual feast of colors too?

Colors are an important part of the gastronomical experience, influencing how delicious we think a food or drink is. That is why the use and understanding of colors is an important part of the practice of food plating, which is “about the presentation of food to increase desire and impress your diners“.color wheel contrast cake Slice cake selection delicious sweet tart

One very useful idea is that of contrasting colors. Look at the photo above. See how the cakes with darker colors stand out better on the white plate? Conversely, a “white cake placed on a black plate will look whiter than the same cake placed on a stark white plate”, according to How Baking Works.

color wheel Depositphotos_22867052_original

This idea is based on the theory behind the color wheel. It is…

“… informed by the law of contrast as articulated in the writings of M.-E. Chevreul. A noted 19th-century color theorist, Chevreul observed that just as dark and light oppositions enhance each other, any color is likewise heightened when placed beside its “complement” – located on the opposite side of the color wheel [see above].” (Source: Art Institute of Chicago)

Contrasting colors is beautifully demonstrated by Georges Seurat’s famous work A Sunday on La Grande Jatte (see first image).  Taking inspiration from Chevreul, Georges Seurat co-invented (with Paul Signac) the technique of Pointillism, where…

A close-up of the painting that shows the clear contrast of distinct colors.

A close-up of the painting that shows the clear contrast of distinct points of colors.

“… the painting is created using countless tiny dots of pure colour, placed in close proximity to each other. When viewed at a distance, the human eye is meant to fuse the individual dots together into areas of solid colour.” (Source: National Gallery)

The effect is that

“When the complements red and green are put side by side, for instance, the red will seem redder and the green, greener… Juxtaposing related shades of a color on a canvas (yellows and greens for example) will create a more vivid and luminous effect than if the colors had been blended on the palette.” (Source: Art Institute of Chicago)

Palette with paint brush and tubes of oil paintWe have seen this before during art lessons in school. The different colors of paint simply looked more vibrant on their own and in contrast to each other, than when they were mixed.

A Sunday on La Grade Jatteimmediately changed the course of vanguard painting, initiating a new direction that was baptized ‘Neoimpressionism’“.

In the same way, for food plating, we can cleverly use distinct and contrasting colors as found in the color wheel to immediately change the perception of our food and drinks.  Just take a look at the montage of photos below!

Second Helpings

You can learn more about Georges Seurat, La Grande Jatte, and pointillism in this short video below. And the amazing Artsy — who have a wonderful mission make all the world’s art accessible to anyone — have put together a fantastic page on Georges Seurat, where you can find his bio, more than 15 works, exclusive articles, up-to-date exhibition listings, and even related artists and categories,  allowing you to discover art beyond Seurat (wait no more!).


Screen Shot 2015-01-10 at 6.02.39 pmLike this? Our 1-Minute NomNoms are a point-by-point feast for the mind so like us to discover more. All you need is a minute a day to explore the world’s marvels through the phenomenon of food!

photos: in order – Wikimedia Commons; depositphotos/CandyBoxImages;  AlbachiaraaWikimedia Commons; depositphotos/photomaru; (clockwise from top left) Kesu01bogdanwankowiczivanmateevnito103szefei


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