The Sight & Insight Podcast

Episode 17 - Warm and Cool Colors

July 23, 2018

Warm and Cool ... and what it means for the artist.


Louis Comfort Tiffany, 1911Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida (1863-1923) Oil on canvas

Join David, Connie and Judy as they talk about the use of warm and cool colors and how they can help the artist create a stronger compositionin terms of foreground and distance and also as a tool to emphasize form.

High key color is an important facet of the plein air painting and nowhere is it better demonstrated than by the Spanish painter, Sorolla. What is it about warm high key colors that elevate our moods? How can one not be uplifted by the sight of such glorious tones? As David tells his students, "Remember warm and cool colors will  create form in your paintings, that is, concavity and convexity." And, "White makes light, but color makes bright!"

Warm and cool colors also create atmosphere in a painting. Warm colors tend to come forward and cool colors traditionally recede into the background. Look at this piece by John Singer Sargent of Lake O'Hara.

Sargent_Lake_O_Hara_1916_Harvard_Art_Museums_Fogg_Museum.jpg   Sorolla_Mending_the_Sail_IMG_5366.jpg

left: John Singer Sargent, Lake O'Hara, 1916, o/c, Harvard Art Museums/ Fogg Museum, Louise E. Bettens Fund

right: Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida, Mending the Sails, 1896, o/c, Galleria Internazionale d’Arte Moderna, Ca’ Pesaro, Venice, Italy 

And so, next time you are setting out to paint plein air, remember to accentuate your warm and cool colors to create a bolder canvas.

"On the sixth day, God created the artist, realizing no doubt that He had far from exhausted the uses of color."

— Robert Brault

Wishing you a great week of painting, or a great week looking at paintings.


David, Connie and Judy

podcast-david.jpg        podcast-connie.jpg