Painting Lesson - Split Primary Colors

Warm and Cool Colors

The color wheel below demonstrates the so-called warm and cool colors. In the upper left half you see the warm colors, yellow, orange, red and the in the lower right half you see the cool colors, green, blue, violet.

It is important to note that within the warm and cool colors represented it the color wheel above that there are warmer and cooler versions of each color (see split primary colors). The warm colors are associated with fire, sunlight, and the cool colors associated with snow, shadows, etc. There are many positions on the psychology of color, however it should be recognize that different people and cultures respond differently to the same color. Form a technical standpoint it is important to understand warm and cool colors, as there use is important in manipulating the eye in perceiving perspective distance and closeness of objects or planes. Cool colors recess and worm colors tend to look closer.

Mixing Colors

Armed with a basic understanding of color theory and how colors should behave you need to roll up your sleeves and dive into the paint. As was mentioned before the only real way to understand mixing color is by mixing it.

Split-Primary Colors (Warm and Cool-Primary Color Mixing)

In the first color wheel the primary colors were crated by mixing a warm and cool version of each color. Now we will look at the two colors by splitting them in two side by side. If you follow the principal of slit primary colors you will never mix muddy colors. In the color wheel below each primary color has been split in half with the warmer version to the left and the cooler version to the right.


Create your own slpit primary color wheel chart as seen below. Use the two versions of paint listed for each primary color so that you will have a better undersandind of warm and cool colors.

Primary Color Warmer Version Cooler Version
Yellow Cadmium Yellow Lemmon Yellow
Red Cadmium Red Alizarin Crimson
Blue Phthalo Blue French Ultramarine

Split-Primary Color Wheel

Split Primary Color Wheel Lesson