the artist color wheel is the artist's favorite tool for creating beautiful art

  • Master color using the artist color wheel.

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.

  • What exactly is color?

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.

what is the artist color wheel?

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.

The artist color wheel is the artists' best friend.The Color Wheel

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.

Color is just plain fun!

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 three primary colors

Primary colors are yellow, red and blue.Primary Colors

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;

  • Lemon Yellow,
  • Permanent Rose
  • and Phthalo Blue.

All other colors are variations or mixtures of these three primary colors.

How to mix paint colors

the secondary colors

When we mix two primary colors together we get a secondary color.Secondary Colors
  • Secondary colors are the first mixture of the 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.

what are tertiary colors?

Mix a secondary color with a primary color to get the tertiary colors.Tertiary Colors
  • When we mix a primary color with a secondary color from either side of it on the color wheel, we get intermediate colors called tertiaries.

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

using warm and cool colors

Warm colors advance, Cool colors recede

The artist 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 usually considered cool colors.

Cool colors appear to recede into the distance.

we can use color to Contour the form of objects

  • Because we know that warm colors advance, we paint the part of an object that is closer to the viewer with warmer colors.
  • And because cool colors recede, we paint the parts of an object turning away from the viewer with cooler colors.

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.

we use color to create distance in our paintings

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.

  • Colors get lighter and cooler, when they are viewed from the distance.

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.

  1. The distant mountain colors are less saturated, lighter.
  2. Adding blue simulated aerial perspective and moved the mountains into the distance.

Notice the colors in the foreground are much warmer and saturated compared to the distant mountains.

we can use the artist color wheel to select colors for our palette

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.

  • Cadmium Yellow Light, Permanent Rose or Cadmium Red Medium and Ultramarine Blue, plus white.

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.

  • A full color palette would include a warm and cool version of each of the six basic colors of the artist color wheel; yellow, orange, red, violet, blue and green.

There is no need for black on our palette. It's easy to mix black, brown and grey.

the color wheel is a super tool for artists!



learn more about colors

  • How do we choose the best paint for artists? What artist paint colors should we use? Single pigment colors in a warm and cool version are an excellent choice.

    The Best Paint for Artists

    How do we choose the best paint for artists? What artist paint colors should we use? Single pigment colors in a warm and cool version are an excellent choice.

  • The color wheel is the artist’s best friend when we are learning how to mix colors. Mixed colors create color harmony. Mix greens, darks and tints, don’t buy them.

    How to Mix Colors

    The color wheel is the artist’s best friend when we are learning how to mix colors. Mixed colors create color harmony. Mix greens, darks and tints, don’t buy them.

  • Books about visiting heaven, a Christian book series for kids of all ages. Learn about how to visit heaven, what does heaven look like and what we do there.

    Christian book series for kids of all ages

    Books about visiting heaven, a Christian book series for kids of all ages. Learn about how to visit heaven, what does heaven look like and what we do there.

  • Learn how to choose paint colors to create beautiful, harmonious paintings. How do professionals choose and create beautiful paintings with only 3 or 4 colors?

    Choose Paint Colors for each painting

    Learn how to choose paint colors to create beautiful, harmonious paintings. How do professionals choose and create beautiful paintings with only 3 or 4 colors?

  • Painting color schemes create cohesion and harmony in your paintings. Learn how artists take the stress of choosing the paint colors for their art paintings.

    Painting Color Schemes

    Painting color schemes create cohesion and harmony in your paintings. Learn how artists take the stress of choosing the paint colors for their art paintings.

  • Visit the God Gifts Blog on the What's New page to keep up on the new pages and articles about painting, kid's books and gardening by the artist Carol May.

    What's New at Great God Gifts website?

    Visit the God Gifts Blog on the What's New page to keep up on the new pages and articles about painting, kid's books and gardening by the artist Carol May.