Identifying warm and cool colors and seeing the difference between this distinction is not always evident when choosing and mixing colors for painting. Artists are faced with an array of tube colors, in warm and cool varieties that circle the spectrum. Adding to this choice, we must identify the light’s temperature that illuminates our subject, and hone in on the subtleties presented.
Think about an object and it’s color at dawn, midday or dusk, or the light in a candle-lit room, or even the night lit by moonlight. In every situation, the temperature of the light (warm or cool) affects the color of the object in view. As if identifying the temperature of light seems complicated, artists need to take into consideration the local color of the object/subject in question. Local color is the color we perceive the subjects to be: a yellow banana, a red apple, a blue sky, and so on.
Choosing colors for a painting is like a math equation, using color instead of numbers. We interpret the local color, add the temperature of light, mix the two together for a pleasing outcome. This process is repeated for each light, mid-tone and dark of any given subject. Summed up, the final color presented is the artist’s interpretation in response to what’s placed before their eyes in a complicated mix to achieve believability.