Saturday, May 10, 2014

Is it warm or cool?

I’m not sure if you’re like me and sometimes wonder which colors are warm and which are cool? Knowing which colors are warm and cool is one tool to create balance and a sense of fullness within a painting. In addition, warm colors appear to move forward while cooler colors recede into the background. That's why when painting a landscape we tend to use warm colors in the foreground then move to cooler colors in the background
We all thought we knew the basics:
  • Warm hues = yellow, orange, red
  • Cool hues = violet, blue, green, brown
In reality there are warm and cool colors of EACH of the hues available to us. For example, we have warm & cool yellows, warm & cool reds, warm & cool blues, etc.
So how can we tell which ones are cool and which ones are warm in our primary colors and our secondary colors. How do we determine the bias towards warm and cool?  There is only one way to do that. You have to paint a color swatch of each of your primary tubes of paint and let your eye be the judge. The eye will tend to the see warm colors first.
My opinion is that it is difficult to talk about absolute when talking about warm and cool colors, for example any red will look warmer when compared to any blue. You can have a warm and a cool yellow but both yellows are warmer than any blue. Greens can be called warmer than blue because greens have yellow in them.
For those of you that really want to know, here is a cheat sheet from the W&N website
Warm Colors:
Cadmium Yellow Pale
Turner's Yellow
New Gamboge
Cadmium Yellow
Winsor Yellow Deep
Indian Yellow
Cadmium Yellow Deep
Cadmium Orange
Winsor Orange
Winsor Orange (Red Shade)
Cadmium Scarlet
Scarlet Lake
Cadmium Red
Winsor Red
Rose Doré
Quinacridone Red
Opera Rose
Quinacridone Magenta
Permanent Magenta
Cobalt Violet
Permanent Mauve
Winsor Violet (Dioxazine) Cobalt Blue Deep
French Ultramarine
Ultramarine (Green Shade)
Winsor Blue (Red Shade)
Cerulean Blue (Red Shade)
Winsor Green (Yellow Shade)
Oxide of Chromium
Yellow Ochre Light
Yellow Ochre
Gold Ochre
Quinacridone Gold
Brown Ochre
Magnesium Brown
Burnt Sienna
Light Red
Venetian Red
Brown Madder
Potter's Pink
Perylene Maroon
Perylene Violet
Caput Mortuum Violet
Burnt Umber
Vandyke Brown
Titanium White (Opaque White)
Cool Colors:
Lemon Yellow (Nickel Titanate)
Bismuth Yellow
Cadmium Lemon
Winsor Lemon
Lemon Yellow Deep
Transparent Yellow
Winsor Red Deep
Permanent Alizarin
Alizarin Crimson
Permanent Carmine
Permanent Rose
Rose Madder Genuine
Indanthrene Blue
Cobalt Blue
Antwerp Blue
Prussian Blue
Winsor Blue (Green Shade)
Cerulean Blue
Phthalo Turquoise
Winsor Green (Blue Shade)
Terre Verte
Perylene Green
Permanent Sap Green
Olive Green
Terre Verte (Yellow Shade)
Green Gold
Raw Sienna
Indian Red
Raw Umber
Payne's Gray
Neutral Tint
Ivory Black
Lamp Black
Mars Black
Davy's Gray
Chinese White 
Any thoughts on color warmth?  How much does it come into play in your paintings?

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