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Is it warm, cool, hot or cold!

All colors are variations of red, yellow and blue.

What a concept, but it's true!

They are divided up according to their properties,

When we are asked for the warm colors, we say red through yellow. Cool colors being blue through green. We understand this. But these same primary colors each have an opposite, in that, red and yellow, which are warm, can
be cool, and the cool blue, can be warm.

In studying the color wheel, we see that, as the colors near the yellow, they become warmer. The
closer they are to blue, they are cooler. Thus, red may be both cool and red, depending on where it is on the color wheel.

The red, yellow and blue form a triangle on our color wheel, with the yellow being at the top, the three
primaries are equal distance from each other. As the yellow goes to the blue, even though yellow is still warm, it starts to become cooler, it loses some of its warm brightness and when enough blue is mixed with the yellow, green is the result.

As the yellow goes to the red, the yellow becomes warmer, going on to the orange, then to red. Green will also tend either to the warm or cool side; warm if closer to the yellow, cool if
closer to the blue.

Going on to our pure cool blue, we find that, it is warmed by the red that is next to it on thecolor wheel.
The color being mixed there, with the blue and red, is purple, again, either warm or cool, depending on its proximity to blue or red.

As we move on to red, we have reds that are closer to blue; they are cool reds. Reds closer to yellow are warm, going on up to orange.

  • Any color, no matter if it is warm or cool, can have a warm or cool bias.
  • Many artists use a warm and cool variation of the primaries.

These are examples.

  • Warm -----------------------------Cool
  • Cadmium Red--------------- Alizarin Crimson
  • Cerulean Blue -------------Phthalocyanine Blue
  • Cadmium Yellow------------- Lemon Yellow
  • Cobalt Blue -----------------Ultramarine Blue

The very best study you can do is to paint with the primaries.

A red, a yellow and a blue.

There are fewer decisions and confusion with a limited palette.


Color Hue

Hue means the actual color of an object.

  • When buying paint, if hue is attached to the name on the tube, the quality of the paint is lower. In
    this case, hue means a lesser strength and is therefore lower in price.


  • Less tinting strength means it will take more of this paint to influence a mixture.


Color Intensity

Intensity means the strength of a color straight from the tube.

  • It has not been diluted with any other color.
  • It is in it's full intensity straight from the tube.
  • For instance, if red is diluted with white, it's intensity has been lessened.
  • If yellow has been diluted with white, it's intensity has also been lessened.


Author : Kay Milam

Copyright-2002 All Rights Reserved

A bit about me.. I have painted, made sculptures, and taught art in my private studio and higher learning classes in two colleges, to both childern and adults.

My paintings are in galleries in Texas, in private collections, and may be viewed at my website.

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