Hot & cold colours

Colour plays a vital role in any painting. Whether you're using pencils to draw your subject or playing with a huge variety of colours in one painting. The palette selection can easily be manipulated to represent a happy and exciting scene to a more dreary and sombre scene. Yes, all of this magic can be done with a touch of hot or cold in the scene.


Warm or hot colours represent the warmer, more seductive and vibrant colours in the paint palette. Although every colour in any palette can be warmed up or cooled down, depending on your needs. But before we get too technical about how they can be adjusted, let's just look at this phrase "hot & cold colours" in regards to their traits as a whole. There are known warms like reds, oranges and yellows. Hot can be described as any colour version that are vivid, bold and bright, it also gives you a feeling of comfort and cosiness. Think of the warm colours as a reflection of the sun and the glowing amber's of a fire. Anything that has this hot glow and brightness to it can be considered a warm or hot colour.


Every colour can be observed as being warm or cool and can be used to represent a variety of concepts and purposes in art. Cool colours are milder and can almost give you shivers. The cooler sides are the greens, blues and violets. As they are mostly reminiscent of shadows and cooler winter days. The temperature of a scene can easily be adjusted by simply adding or tempering the colours to heat them up or cool them down. I consider tempering colour to be an art in itself, as there is a fine balance between hues, saturation and tonal values. All are contributing to each part of the scene and overlay each other, to play their part in a work of art.


We can easily shift the focus to an object in the foreground as we add warmth to it. Likewise, pushing the background to afar is easily achieved by cooling down the scene. Downplaying the background with muted tones gives it that far distant and obscured look. Viewing something further away is like atmospheric perspective and it is mostly seen in cooler colours. When you view distance in warm conditions, it turns into an invisible mirage where the heat rises up and plays tricks on your eyes.


Now, that my lovelies is what hot and cold colour is all about; playing tricks with what we see

and manipulating our vision. Brilliant, isn't it?


I encourage you to play with your colours, to discover the scope and range of shades you can achieve with just the basics. In the video is a very basic demo of using the three warm tones and the three cool tones of the primaries I have in my watercolour set.

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©2020 by andsodesigns_Tanya J. de Wet