Thursday, January 13, 2011

Creating Depth with Color- V

Power with Warm and Cool Colors

Different colors have an amazing property that makes some colors come forward on the picture plane and some drop back, or recede on the picture plane. Artists can use these properties to select colors to convey what they envision.

Reds, oranges, yellows are warm and will jump forward visually; think of yellow jonquils, orange pumpkins, red and orange fall leaves. Blues, greens, purples will recede, think watery depths and deep blue skies.
Note how the word Warm pops out and the word Cool recedes in comparison.

The rose hip on the left comes forward in part because it is a warmer red than the right hip. There is some orange in the left hip, especially in the area that is closest to the viewer. There is a bluer tone to the right hip. Even red can be more or less warm or cool as in this example. Using this can really help put objects or elements in the art in the right visual plane.

On the photo of the leaves, I used the coolest colors (blue green with some violet) on the bottom leaf and that helps it to visually recede. The warmest colors (orange) are on the top leaf to help it pop forward. The middle leaf is moderately warm (yellow green).

Note that I also used a change in warm and cool colors for the shadows to further differentiate between the bottom two leaves.

The little leaf on the rose hip is helped to convey the bend in the leaf by creating a cooler color (blue green) on the leaf next to the hip and the point of the leaf is much warmer ( yellow green) than the rest of the leaf.

Readers, thanks for reading and your comments and questions.



  1. I'm thinking of printing out your posts to use as a reference! Very interesting!! Thanks so much (again!!).

  2. Robbie, that is very flattering. Nancy