Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Warm & Cool Colors

Have you ever wondered about warm and cool colors and whats the difference. Warm color appear to move forward while cooler colors recede into the background. That's why when painting a landscape I prefer to use warm colors in the foreground then move to cooler colors and lighter values (meaning more water) in the background. If I was working on a floral I prefer to use warm or even a mix of color in the flower then use cooler colors in the shadows to give depth to my subject. 

Warm Colors
Cadmium Yellow Pale, New Gamboge, Cadmium Yellow, Winsor Yellow Deep, Indian Yellow, Cadmium Yellow Deep, Cadmium Orange, Winsor Orange, Winsor Orange (Red Shade). Cadmium Scarlet, Scarlet Lake, Cadmium Red, Winsor Red, Rose Doré, Quinacridone Red, Opera Rose, Quinacridone Magenta, Permanent Magenta, Cobalt Violet, Permanent Mauve, Winsor Violet (Dioxazine), Cobalt Blue Deep, French Ultramarine, Ultramarine, (Green Shade), Winsor Blue (Red Shade), Cerulean Blue (Red Shade), Winsor Green (Yellow Shade), Yellow Ochre, Gold Ochre, Quinacridone Gold, Brown Ochre, Magnesium Brown, Burnt Sienna, Light Red, Venetian Red, Brown Madder, Perylene Maroon, Perylene Violet, Burnt Umber, Vandyke Brown, Sepia

Cool Colors
Lemon Yellow, (Nickel Titanate), Bismuth Yellow, Cadmium Lemon, Winsor Lemon, Lemon Yellow Deep, Transparent Yellow, Winsor Red Deep, Permanent Alizarin, Crimson, Alizarin Crimson, Permanent Carmine, Permanent Rose, Rose Madder Genuine, Indanthrene Blue, Cobalt Blue, Antwerp Blue, Prussian Blue, Winsor Blue (Green Shade), Cerulean Blue, Phthalo Turquoise, Winsor Green, (Blue Shade), Terre Verte, Perylene Green, Permanent Sap Green, Olive Green, Terre Verte (Yellow Shade), Green Gold, Raw Sienna.


  1. I really appreciate this listing and your suggestions about warm and cool as they relate to depth. Thanks so much!

  2. Hi Laura Thank you, great question these lists were based on Winsor & Newton colors. To answer your question, whenever you see a Brand name Blue color such as Joe's Blue or Winsor Blue etc. that is Phtalo Blue.

  3. Oh! That's good to know! Does it also go for phthalo green and turquoise? Also, Indian Yellow seems to be in both lists. To my eye—and based on the way it mixes—it's a warm yellow, yes no? Anyhow, good stuff.
    Thanks, Ben

  4. Is Indian Yellow warm or cold, because you've written both...

  5. This is great for new artists who still can't clearly discern which colors are warm or cool(like ME ;) Thank you, Birgit!

  6. This is such a great resource; thanks so much! What about the odd-ball colors such as Davey's Grey, Indigo, Sleeping Beauty turquoise (Dan.Smith,) Dioxizine violet, Rose of Ultramarine, others. Somehow, I'm just not picking up on the temperature of some of these. Even with squinting! ;P

    1. Cool: Indigo, Davey's Grey
      Warm: Dioxizne Violet warm, Rose of Ultramarine

      Not sure about Sleeping Beauty :)

  7. Hi Karla. Cheap Joe's site lists Sleeping Beauty turquoise as warm.