Cool and Warm Colors


Cool and Warm Colors

Knowing a little bit about color temperature will help you achieve more depth with your paintings. Some colors are considered cool and some are warm. Cool and warm colors can play off of each other and give you some great effects in your artwork if you know how to use them.


On the color wheel, the cool colors would be blue, green, and violet. Think about cool things in nature: water, shadowy snow scenes, grass, etc. That’s one way you can remember the cool colors.

Warm colors would be red, yellow and orange. Things in nature that are warm are: the sun, fire, etc. This helps me when I’m trying to decide if something is a warm or cool color.

Most of the time shadowy areas are cool and areas that are in light are warm, but sometimes you can have a cool light and warmer shadows. No matter which way a subject appears, with warm or cool light, the shadows will be the opposite.


Cool Reds? Warm Blues?

There are also cool reds, warm blues, and a huge variety of temperatures across the color spectrum. Take this hydrangea bloom for example…

It is pink, but it is composed of both cool and warm pinks. That’s what gives it the depth. So in this painting I used a variety of reds and added white to create these pinks of all temperatures. The pinks that lean more towards purple are cool. The pinks that lean more towards orange or coral are warm.

Can you see it?

My best advice to help you begin to see and use cool and warm colors in your artwork is to play with colors. Practice and allow yourself to experiment. You may stumble upon a new color palette that you never would have put together otherwise!


Happy Painting!









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