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
Cadmium Yellow Pale
Winsor Yellow Deep
Cadmium Yellow Deep
Winsor Orange (Red Shade)
Winsor Violet (Dioxazine) Cobalt Blue Deep
Ultramarine (Green Shade)
Winsor Blue (Red Shade)
Cerulean Blue (Red Shade)
Winsor Green (Yellow Shade)
Oxide of Chromium
Yellow Ochre Light
Caput Mortuum Violet
Titanium White (Opaque White)
Lemon Yellow (Nickel Titanate)
Lemon Yellow Deep
Winsor Red Deep
Rose Madder Genuine
Winsor Blue (Green Shade)
Winsor Green (Blue Shade)
Permanent Sap Green
Terre Verte (Yellow Shade)
Any thoughts on color warmth? How much does it come into play in your paintings?