Johannes Itten (1888 - 1967), a Swiss-born abstract painter whose own works were filled with swirling, vibrating coloured shapes. Itten taught using a colour sphere of the 12 hues, and he developed ideas about seven different methods of colour contrast.
First was contrast of hue, the mixing of different hues from the colour wheel. The farther apart the hues, the greater the contrast. For example, bright yellow and purple contrast more than yellow and green or yellow and orange. Second was light and dark contrast, when tints or shades are placed next to an extreme opposite. In the most basic sense, think of white as opposed to black. Light and dark contrast could be used in monochromatic compositions (images done with tints and shades within one hue).
Itten also taught of colour as a cold - warm contrast, relating colours to different temperatures. This is probably one of his most lasting contributions to colour theory. Cool colours include blues and greens, while warm colours include red, orange and yellow. The idea stuck, and you will still hear this terminology used today.
His use and idea of contrasting colours is really interesting and is a technique I am looking into doing within my work. I have always been interesting in using contrasting colours in my work. I feel that this is a technique that works well with my style of work. When planning my final pieces I am going to take into consideration what colours will look better together and wether I am going to make certain shapes certain colours and what colours they make create once over lapped.