the color wheel

is your key to successful paintings

the secret to painting

The color wheel is a surprising tool to help our painting skills. Color creates emotions in our paintings. It gives form to the objects we paint. It creates the illusion of depth in our two dimensional paintings.

  • Color is just plain fun!

what is a color wheel?

We probably know about the renowned physicist Isaac Newton.

He was most famous for explaining gravity.

He was also the one who devised the theory of light and color in the 1600s.

He noticed that when light goes through a prism, it is divided into colors.

The prism divided light into the colors of the rainbow.

The rainbow colors are red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and purple.

The color wheel is the key to successful painting.The 12 Colors of The Color Wheel

the color wheel

is your key to successful paintings

the secret to painting

The color wheel is a surprising tool to help our painting skills. Color creates emotions in our paintings. It gives form to the objects we paint. It creates the illusion of depth in our two dimensional paintings.

  • Color is just plain fun!

what is a color wheel?

We probably know about the renowned physicist Isaac Newton.

He was most famous for explaining gravity.

He was also the one who devised the theory of light and color in the 1600s.

He noticed that when light goes through a prism, it is divided into colors.

The prism divided light into the colors of the rainbow.

The rainbow colors are red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and purple.


The color wheel is the key to successful painting.The 12 Colors of The Color Wheel

Artists have been using it to improve our paintings ever since. It is the basis for understanding color.

Today the color wheel is based on twelve colors.

We use it to select the paint colors for our palette.

We use it to choose colors for a painting.

We use it for mixing colors while we are painting.

Color gives life to our paintings.

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let's delve into color

what are the primary colors?

Today artists use the primary color wheel based on the three primary colors; red, yellow and blue.

The paint colors closest to the primary colors are Lemon Yellow, Permanent Rose and Thalo Blue.

All other colors can be mixed from these primary colors.

The primary colors, red, yellow and bluePrimary Colors

what are the secondary colors?

When we mix two of the primary colors together, we get a secondary color.

Yellow and red make orange.

Yellow and blue make green.

Blue and red make purple or violet.

When we mix two primary colors together we get a secondary color.Secondary Colors

how do you make a tertiary color?

When we mix a primary color with a secondary color, we get intermediate colors called tertiary colors.

The primary color yellow mixed with the secondary green gives us yellow-green.

If we go to the other side of yellow and mix it with the secondary orange, we get yellow-orange.

The tertiary colors are; yellow-green, yellow-orange, red-orange, violet-red, blue-violet and blue-green.


Mix a secondary color with a primary color to get the tertiary colors.Tertiary Colors

More about the Color Wheel from Wikipedia

use the color wheel to boost your painting skills

The color wheel contains warm colors and cool colors.

Red, orange and yellow are considered warm colors.

The warm colors appear to advance forward in the painting.

Blue, green and sometimes violet are normally considered cool colors.

Cool colors appear to recede into the distance.

warm and cool colors


create distance in your paintings

We normally do our paintings on a two dimensional surface of canvas or paper.

When we look into the distance colors get lighter. They also get cooler.

Suppose we have a field of yellow flowers. Even though yellow is a warm color, it will get cooler when it goes into the distance.

We create the illusion of distance and depth in our two dimensional paintings by using warm colors up close and using cool colors for the distance.

In the painting "Springtime" warm colors show that sunlight is shining on the mountains.

The addition of blue moves the mountains into the distance.


show the multi-dimensional form of objects

Paint the part of an object that comes toward the viewer with warm colors.

Paint the parts of an object that turn away from the viewer with cooler colors.

We painted cooler and darker colors on the edge of the mangoes to show them turning away from our view.

But you say red and orange are both warm colors. You are correct. However orange is a bit warmer than red and yellow is warmer than orange.

If the edge has bright light shining on it, you won't paint it darker, but still paint it cooler to show it is turning away.


selecting colors

How does the knowledge of the color wheel help us select paint colors for our palette?

Use a warm and cool version of each of the six basic colors of the color wheel.

These colors appear in nature in the rainbow.

A warm and cool version of each rainbow color makes it easier to mix additional colors while we are painting.

limited palette

Using a limited palette of the primary colors (yellow, red and blue) is a great way to learn about color.

Beginning oil painters could use Cadmium Yellow Light, Permanent Rose and Ultramarine Blue.

It's great to have a warm and cool version of each primary. With the addition of white and you can mix all other colors.

There is no need for black on your palette. It is easy to mix black or grey from complimentary colors.

  • Understanding of the color wheel enables us to mix our own colors for beautiful paintings.
  • Plus we save money because we don't have to buy all the colors in the art store.
  • Click Here to get your Color Mixing Guide with a Color Wheel.

Enjoy your colors and have fun painting!


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