Oil Painting Tips

Which Color is That Warm or Cool

Is That Color Warm or Cold

You hear a lot about the terms warm or cool colors. There is a broad definition and a more detailed explanation for warm and cool colors. The basic definition for your primary colors are red is warm and blue is cold some refer to yellow as warm but I consider it a neutral color meaning it can lean either warm or cool. Next you have your secondary colors Orange is warm and Violet is cool but once again I consider green to be neutral because it can be warm or cool.

General Definition

Warm Colors Neutral Colors Cool Colors
Red Yellow Blue
Orange Green Violet

The more detailed definitions or warm or cool are applied to every color on color wheel and the colors you have on your palette

Warm and Cool of each Primary and Secondary Color

Warm Colors Cool Colors
Yellow -Orange Yellows Yellow- Greener Yellows
Blue – Green Blues Blue- Violet Blues
Red – Red Orange Red Violet
Red Orange Yellow Orange
Red Violet Blue Violet
Yellow Green

 

Blue Green

This palette contains the warm and cool of every primary color. These are spaced around the color wheel the closer proximity of the colors allows us to get more color variations. Because as we will learn distance between your colors is everything in controlling your color mixtures.

More detailed still is colors are warm and cool in context to one another you can take a cool color from a overall warm painting(with mostly oranges and reds) and put it in an overall cool painting(painting with a a lot of purple and blues) and that color that was cool in one context can be warm in another. Below is a good example.
Put here 6 colors with different relationships.

The Violet Color Seems Warm among blues and greens but cool among yellows and reds

To see videos on Color Theory and Mixing visit my YouTube channel

Here is a video on Warm and Cool colors

Oil Painting, Color and Intensity Scales

The Chroma Scale

Chroma is an important aspect of Color. Remember chroma and intensity mean the same thing, it is how bright or dull a color appears. By having a variety of intensities with your colors you increase the the depth of your color relationships in your paintings. You seldom hear mention of  the chroma or intensity scale so let’s explore what it means.

The Chroma wheel shows the primary colors decreasing in intensity or chroma down threw the chroma scale to a neutral gray. Pictured above in the color wheel are the primary, secondary and tertiary colors progressing from their most intense down the 5 steps to neutral gray. There are several levels of intensity but for the chroma scale we will use a five steps of intensity. Step 5 is a color at its most intense Step 1 is neutral gray.

Since chroma doesn’t refer to value or hue a very light violet may be a step 4 on the chroma scale as well as raw sienna and venetian red though the colors differ in hue and value they are the same chroma or intensity.

 

 

Try to ignore the color’s differences and instead focus on their similarities. Their intensity, by learning to observe a color’s intensity you will be taking a large step in understanding color.

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How to Mix Color:Mixing with Tertiary Colors

Color Wheel Primary Secondary and Tertiary Color

Controlling Color Using
Tertiary Colors

Control your mixtures with a better understanding of the color wheel

. Most colors of a painting are not colors right out of the tube. They have to be modified. As the artist we modify the value, intensity(chroma) or the hue. Sometimes we modify all three today we are going to talk about using tertiary colors to lower or “gray down” a color’s intensity. Grayed or colors of lower intensity are important way of controlling you color. The more intense colors catch more attention when they are surrounded by colors with lower intensity. 80% percent of you colors in representational painting will contain colors of lower intensity or chroma another words “grayed” colors.

Now when I say “grayed” I am not talking about battle ship grey. I am talking about any color not being at it’s most intense shade. Below are some wonderful grayed colors. Earth tones in this example would be included with grayed colors. Grayed colors will give you paintings more variety and better cohesion.

Assorted swatches of Grayed color

Colors in nature are rarely straight out of the tube. Your primary and secondary colors are too intense to look natural. When painting, you are constantly modifying your colors and graying their intensity to create paintings that are harmonious.

First, lets look at the definitions of color.

Primary Colors – These colors cannot be mixed. They are the colors from which all other colors are made. The primary colors are red, yellow, and blue.

Secondary Colors – These colors are mixed from the primary colors. The secondary colors are orange, green, and purple.

Tertiary Colors – These colors are the steps between the primary and secondary colors. The tertiary colors are red orange, yellow orange, red purple, blue purple, yellow green, and blue green.

Complimentary Colors – Colors directly opposite one another on the color wheel. The compliment of red is green. The compliment of blue is orange.

Analogous Colors – Colors near one another on the color wheel. Analogous colors of red are purple and orange. Analogous colors of green are yellow and blue.

 

Each color has three characteristics.

Hue– The hue of a color is what color family the color belongs to. Is it red, yellow, blue, green, orange, or purple?

hue small

Value – How dark or light a color is.

value strip

Chroma – Is the intensity of a color, how bright or dull a color is.

red greeen strip

Grays are essential to give your painting structure and depth.

Grays are more than those neutral battleship grays. Every color has its highest saturation point or intensity. As the intensity of a color drops, it is referred to being “grayed down”. Browns are actually dark reds or oranges, where the intensity and value have been lowered.

Once you mixing colors you will want to use tertiary colors all those wonderful colors between the primary and secondary colors. Just as with other colors you gray them down with their compliment. The compliment of a tertiary color will always be straight across from the color wheel and will always be another tertiary color ex: The compliment of “Blue Green” is “Orange Red”. Notice the compliment of “Blue Green” is easy to remember if you find the compliment of each color named in the color description(Compliment of Blue=Orange, the compliment of Green=Red, so the compliment of Blue Green is Orange Red)
use this method to find the compliment of the color you are mixing. It will save you time from having to constantly look at the color wheel.

Graying color using Tertiary Colors

Red Violet and Yellow Green

 

Red Orange and Blue Green

 

Yellow Orange and Blue Violet

 

So if you are using alizarin crimson which is a Red Violet and need to knock down the intensity and you don’t want it to change it’s hue too much add it’s compliment Yellow Green to the mixture. Learn your tertiary colors to have more control over you color mixtures.

by Kevin McCain
To learn more about painting visit

Kevin McCain Studios Art Classes

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To see demonstrations on mixing colors view my You Tube Channel Kevin McCain Studios

Color Mixing Video below

Mixing Colors Using Split Primary Palette

How to Mix Color: Color Characteristics

Color and It’s Multiple Personalities

  Color is has three very distinct personalities or characteristics. This is why color has so much complexity however by understanding these aspects of color and how to identify them you can better understand the colors you are seeing. Understanding is more than half the battle in the world of color mixing. The three aspects of color are hue, value and chroma. With the exception of black and white every color has these three aspects. So let’s shed a little light on what these things mean.

 

Hue

Hue is what family the color is apart. Is the color red, yellow, blue, green, violet, or orange, whether a color is dark or light, dull or bright every color will belong to one of these 6 color families. Practice viewing color and describing in which family of color it belongs.

Chroma

Chroma or Intensity is the second attribute of color. It is how bright or dull a color appears. Colors can be quiets grays or loud vibrant and colorful. All these variations of a color’s chroma or intensity makeit a very expressive aspect of color.

Value

Value is the last and the most important aspect of color. If you get you values right in a painting you can do all kinds of things with chroma or hue and still create a very convincing painting. A great example of this would be the work of California Impressionists such as William Wendt.

The combination of these three aspects are contained in the millions of colors we find in the world around us. Understanding hue, chroma and intensity will help you to accurately identify color.

 

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How to Control Color Mixes

Mixing Grays with
Triadic Colors

Control your mixtures with a better understanding of the colorwheel
Greyed or colors of lower intensity are important way of controlling you color. The more intense colors catch more attention when they are surrounded by colors with lower intensity. 80% percent of you colors in representational painting will contain colors of lower intensity or chroma another words “greyed” colors.

Now when I say “greyed” I am not talking about battle ship grey. I am talking about any color not being at it’s most intense shade. Below are some wonderful grayed colors. Earth tones in this example would be included with greyed colors. Greyed colors will give you paintings more variety and better cohesion.

Assorted swatches of Grayed color

Colors in nature are rarely straight out of the tube. Your primary and secondary colors are too intense to look natural. When painting, you are constantly modifying your colors and graying their intensity to create paintings that are harmonious.

First, lets look at the definitions of color.

Primary Colors – These colors cannot be mixed. They are the colors from which all other colors are made. The primary colors are red, yellow, and blue.

Secondary Colors – These colors are mixed from the primary colors. The secondary colors are orange, green, and purple.

Tertiary Colors – These colors are the steps between the primary and secondary colors. The tertiary colors are red orange, yellow orange, red purple, blue purple, yellow green, and blue green.

Complimentary Colors – Colors directly opposite one another on the color wheel. The compliment of red is green. The compliment of blue is orange.

Analogous Colors – Colors near one another on the color wheel. Analogous colors of red are purple and orange. Analogous colors of green are yellow and blue.

 

Each color has three characteristics.

Hue– The hue of a color is what color family the color belongs to. Is it red, yellow, blue, green, orange, or purple?

Value – How dark or light a color is.

Chroma – Is the intensity of a color, how bright or dull a color is.

Grays are essential to give your painting structure and depth. Grays are more than those neutral battleship grays. Every color has its highest saturation point or intensity. As the intensity of a color drops, it is referred to being “greyed down”. Browns are actually dark reds or oranges, where the intensity and value have been lowered.

Once you mixing colors you will want to use tertiary colors all those wonderful colors between the primary and secondary colors. Just as with other colors you gray them down with their compliment. The compliment of a tertiary color will always be straight across from the color wheel and will always be another tertiary color ex: The compliment of “Blue Green” is “Orange Red”. Notice the compliment of “Blue Green” is easy to remember if you find the compliment of each color named in the color description(Compliment of Blue=Orange, the compliment of Green=Red, so the compliment of Blue Green is Orange Red)
use this method to find the compliment of the color you are mixing. It will save you time from having to constantly look at the color wheel.

Graying color using Tertiary Colors

Red Violet and Yellow Green

 

Red Orange and Blue Green

 

Yellow Orange and Blue Violet

 

So if you are using alizarin crimson which is a Red Violet and need to knock down the intensity and you done want it to change it’s hue too much add it’s compliment Yellow Green to the mixture. Learn your tertiary colors to have more control over you color mixtures.

by Kevin McCain
To learn more about painting visit

Kevin McCain Studios Art Classes

How to Create Depth in Your Landscape Oil Painting

Creating Depth in Your Artwork

  Looking at many of the paintings of the great masters, I am amazed at the feeling of depth. Rembrandt painted scenes which appear as if you could reach right into them, or step inside and wander the countryside. Many artists have tried to discover the secret of painting pictures with that kind of depth. They pour over books looking for the secret recipes, just the right technique, or paint pigments. There is no big secret; it all comes down to the four laws of atmospheric painting: Size, Value, Detail and Color.

  Whenever a painting of mine feels flat and without depth, I stop and go back to the basics. I ask questions about my painting. How are the relationships in size, value, color and detail working together? The answers to these questions often solve the spacial problems with my painting.

The Four Laws of Creating Atmospheric Depth in Painting

1. Value– In landscape painting the value relationships need to be consistent. They usually fall into two categories:
a. The darkest objects/values are in the foreground and will fade to the lightest in the background
OR
b. The lightest objects/values will be in the foreground and fade to the darkest in the background
2. Size– This is very important. There is nothing that will flatten a painting more than to have a tree a mile away larger than the trees 50 yards from you. Larger objects advance while smaller ones recede. The most amazing painting I ever saw was of grasslands and some very distant mountains. The blades of grass in the foreground were taller than the distant mountains. That contrast in size really gave the painting a feeling of depth.
3. Detail– The most amount of detail should be in the foreground and fade to become very simplified in the background. If you are trying to paint the individual leaves on a tree a mile away it will advance into the foreground and flatten your painting.
4. Color– The most intense colors should be in the foreground. If you have the most intense colors in your background it will feel like it is trying to advance to the foreground which will flatten your painting.

Also your painting should have an overall color temperature, warm or cool. Look at the temperature of the light. The light will change from warm light to cool during the day. Is the lit side of your objects cool in temperature and the shadows warm in color temperature? Or is the lit side of the objects warm and the shadows cool in temperature? It’s all about the temperature of the light source (the shadow side will express the complimentary color to the light source. Example; If you have a yellow light source the shadow side of an object will be slightly purple)

   When your painting has very clear and consistent relationships in value, color, size and detail, you will have a power painting that creates the illusion of atmospheric depth.

How to Plein Air Paint: What Oil Paint Color to Use

Plein Air and Outdoor Painting Approaches

My Outdoor Painting Palette

There are many great painting palettes. Certain palettes favor earth tones, others favor warm or cool color mixtures. I have used many different palettes, but the palette I have come to use most over the years is a warm and cool primary color palette. I mix secondary and tertiary colors from the primary colors. With this, I find I can achieve the widest range of colors. I can mix color schemes that lean warm or cool. This isn’t just a palette that favors landscape painting. This palette can be used for portrait painting, landscape, or still life. The colors I use for my palette are very intense but I can mix them to create earth tones or grays. The colors I use are Cadmium Lemon Yellow or Cadmium Yellow Light, Cadmium Yellow Deep, Cadmium Red Light, Alizarin Crimson, Ultramarine Blue, Thalo Blue (Winsor Blue Green in Winsor Newton), Ivory or Mars Black, and Titanium White.

Each one of these primaries lean warm or cool and are almost equally spaced around the color wheel. This way I can mix the most intense secondary and tertiary colors, as well as neutralize the colors into vibrant grays. I lay out my paints starting with white and moving through Lemon Yellow or Cad Yellow Light, Cadmium Yellow Medium or Yellow Deep, Cad Red Light , Alizarin Crimson, Ultramarine Blue, Thalo Blue, black and white.

A few more things to keep in mind. Fill your palette with enough paint to finish your painting. I know as a beginner it can be hard to squeeze out a lot of paint. It’s like watching money spilling onto your palette. You don’t want to waste any of your paint because of the investment of made in your supplies. Try to resist the urge to put out little dots of paint. To mix colors you need a good amount of paint. Squeeze out more white; you will use this more than any other color.

If you are just starting out with painting, you may suffer from a little sticker shock when you go to the store to purchase your oil paints. Resist the urge to buy water soluble and student grade paint. Student oil paints are made with so many fillers that it is hard to get any intense mixtures. Student oil paints very quickly become pasty and lifeless when you add white. Water soluble paints don’t have a good working consistency and dissolve into a horrible mess if you are caught in even the slightest rain storm. I use professional oil paints they mix cleanly and hold their intensity when mixed with white and are very buttery consistency out of the tube. There are professional paints that are very price friendly; Grumbacher Pre-Test Oil paint is about the least-expensive professional paint and will work very well for you. There are several other professional brands but the ones that won’t break the bank are Holbein, Rembrandt and Winsor Newton(professional Line not “Winton Series”). Something else that will help you save money is buying your supplies from a wholesale art supply store. There are many stores out there but my favorites are Utrecht, ASW Express, or Jerry’s Artorama. Find them online and you will save a lot of money ordering from these excellent wholesalers. These are the best ways to use the best paint without spending all your hard earned cash

Painting Mixing Clean Color Every Time

Painting Approaches:

Mixing with a Brush and Keeping Your Color Mixtures Clean

You’re painting that wonderful masterpiece. You just painted some wonderful deep shadows in the foreground and decide to work on the sky. You need to mix light, subtle cloud colors but you have a brush full of a dark color you know won’t clean out entirely. So instead you reach for a clean brush. Problem solved. Soon, however, your studio palette has 20 or 30 dirty brushes full of different color mixtures. Those of you who have any experience painting know what I’m talking about.

This is a trick I learned a long time ago while painting outdoors, where I didn’t have my full collection of 200 brushes. Of course you still need to regularly, thoroughly wash out your brushes. However, in the heat of the moment, this trick will do wonders even if you’re going from dark to light paint. First, wash your brush, then reach for the color you want to mix. For example, if you’re mixing a light yellow, dip your brush into a little bit of yellow. Work it quickly into your brush then wash out your brush again. If there is still some gray, dark gunk in your brush (that by this time is a slightly yellow, greenish gunk), repeat the process. Rinse out your brush again, dip it into the yellow, work it quickly into your brush a second time, and rinse it out. By this time, your brush will only have a little yellow in it and no dark gunk. Now any yellow mixture will be as intense and bright as you need. Using this technique you can paint an entire painting with clean and bright color mixtures using just one brush.

Color Mixing-How to Mix Beautiful Grays with Oil Paints

Grays color swatch

Mixing those Wonderful Grays

Colors in nature are rarely straight out of the tube. Your primary and secondary colors are too intense to look natural. When painting, you are constantly modifying your colors and graying their intensity to create paintings that are harmonious.

First, lets look at the definitions of color.

Primary Colors – These colors cannot be mixed. They are the colors from which all other colors are made. The primary colors are red, yellow, and blue.

Secondary Colors – These colors are mixed from the primary colors. The secondary colors are orange, green, and purple.

Tertiary Colors – These colors are the steps between the primary and secondary colors. The tertiary colors are red orange, yellow orange, red purple, blue purple, yellow green, and blue green.

Complementary Colors – Colors directly opposite one another on the color wheel. The compliment of red is green. The complement of blue is orange.

Analogous Colors – Colors near one another on the color wheel. Analogous colors of red are purple and orange. Analogous colors of green are yellow and blue.

Each color has three characteristics.hue small

Hue- The hue of a color is what color family the color belongs to. Is it red, yellow, blue, green, orange, or purple?

Value sm

Value – How dark or light a color is.

Chroma small

Chroma – Is the intensity of a color, how bright or dull a color is.

Grays are essential to give your painting structure and depth. Grays are more than those neutral battleship grays. Every color has its highest saturation point or intensity. As the intensity of a color drops, it is referred to being “grayed down”. Browns are actually dark reds or oranges, where the intensity and value have been lowered.

Anytime you want to knock down the intensity of a color, in other words create “grayed color”, add the color’s complementary color. For instance, if you want to make a red less intense add green and you will get grayed reds. Continue adding green and you will get brown, which is also a grayed red.

Pushing a color more towards neutral gray is a multi-step process (and can be tricky for beginners). First add the color’s complement (such as green added to red), now depending if the colors aren’t completely complementary your color will never get to middle gray. It may get close but will lean a little purple,green, orange, well you get the picture. If it is leaning green than add a little red. Just a touch of color will push the color a lot so be careful. If it’s dark then add white to lighten the color, because most neutral grays are a middle to lighter end of the value scale. Below shows the Primary, and Secondary, and Tertiary colors on the color wheel moving towards gray.

Now some people may ask, why do this? Why can’t I just add black and white. Well the short answer is if you make grays with compliments they will be very rich grays. They won’t be as muddy or lifeless as grays mixed with black. The better answer is if you learn to do this you will have more control over your colors and you ability to control color mixtures will expand exponentially.

Color Wheel Chroma sm

 

 

Get out your paints and practice mixing color with their complementary colors. See the variations of color you can make. The possibilities are endless.

Here is an example of mixing grays with oil paint on my YouTube Channel

To see more videos on drawing and painting visit my channel click here