Understanding color gives the artist a great advantage in our painting skills. We use the knowledge of color to create beautiful paintings.
Color is a beautiful gift from God. It brings joy to our lives. Imagine if, we went through our lives like in a black and white movie. I can't and I am so glad for all the colors around us.
Color is one of the main joys of being an artist.
The renowned physicist Isaac Newton gave us the color wheel in the 1600s. He was famous for explaining gravity, but he also devised the theory of light and color.
He noticed when light goes through a prism, it is divided into rainbow colors.
The seven rainbow colors are red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and purple.
Artists have been using the knowledge of the color wheel to improve their paintings ever since.
Today the artist color wheel uses twelve colors. It excludes indigo and uses the other six rainbow colors.
Color is the artist's wonderful tool for expression.
When light shines on an object, some of the light rays bounce back, off the object. The other light rays are absorbed by the object.
The light rays that bounce off an object are its color.
For example, a green object bounces green light rays and absorbs the other colors. Dark objects absorb most of the light rays. That's why they look dark because almost no rays are bouncing back.
The wise artist will use color to express different emotions in our paintings. Warm colors generally create good feelings and cool colors feel calm and peaceful.
Red is an exception to this generality. Red is considered the romantic love color. That's why men give their ladies red roses. But, red may also portray anger or rage.
Orange is an energetic color that implies haste or impulse.
Yellow is a happy, sunshine color. It may also be seen as a warning, as in our caution traffic lights. Also, cowards are called yellow.
Green is associated with the out-of-doors and nature. It certainly has a strong tie to money. Sometimes people may be called green with envy.
Blue is a peaceful, calm color that reminds us of the sky and water. It stimulates trust and loyalty.
Purple or violet has long been associated with royalty and elegance. It may also be used to portray courage.
How to use warm and cool colors in our paintings.
The twelve colors of the artist color wheel are based on the primary colors; yellow, red and blue.
The paint colors closest to the primaries are;
All other colors are variations or mixtures of these three primary colors.
When we mix two of the primaries together, we get a secondary color.
We mix yellow and red to get orange.
Yellow and blue mixed together make green.
By mixing blue and red we get purple, also called violet.
The secondary colors can have some variation. It depends on exactly which yellow, red or blue were used for the mixing.
For example, mixing primary yellow with green (a secondary color) gives us yellow-green.
If we go to the other side of yellow and mix it with the secondary color orange, we get yellow-orange.
The tertiary colors are;
yellow-green, yellow-orange, red-orange, red-violet, blue-violet and blue-green.
Learn more about the Color Wheel from Wikipedia
The artist color wheel contains warm colors and cool colors.
Red, orange and yellow are considered warm colors.
When warm colors are used in a painting, they appear to advance forward in the painting.
Blue, green and sometimes violet are usually considered cool colors.
Basically any color containing blue is considered cool.
When cool colors are used in a painting, they seem to recede into the distance.
Cooler and darker colors on the edge of the mangoes show them turning away from our view.
If the edge has bright light shining on it, we won't paint it darker. But, we would still paint it cooler to show it turning away.
But you may say, yellow, orange and red are all warm colors. You are correct.
Yellow is the warmest color. But the less yellow in a color, the cooler it gets. Because orange contains less yellow, it is cooler than yellow. Red is cooler than orange and much cooler than yellow.
Paintings are usually done on a two dimensional surface, such as canvas or paper. We use color to create the illusion of distance and depth on our two dimensional surface.
Particles of dust and moisture in the air block the view of things, so they look lighter. This phenomenon is called aerial or atmospheric perspective.
Therefore, less saturated colors look farther away. Yellow, which is our warmest color starts disappearing in the distance and blue takes over.
Artists use cooler colors in the distant parts of a painting to make them recede. We use warmer colors in the foreground portions of the painting to make them look closer.
The painting above used the two things to give the illusion of distance on a two-dimensional surface.
Notice the colors in the foreground are much warmer and saturated compared to the distant mountains.
When we are learning to paint, it's a good idea to begin with a limited palette of the primary colors; yellow, red and blue.
Learn more about color by painting with a limited palette.
An expanded palette of a warm and cool version of each primary makes it easier to mix other colors.
There is no need for black on our palette. It's easy to mix black, brown and grey.
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