Art lessons on warm & cool colors

Updated February 21, 2017

One lesson to teach your beginning art students is the importance of warm and cool colours. Both warm and cool colours are used in drawing and painting to convey different feelings and moods. Once you explain that warm and cool colours exist, you can plan lessons to ensure that your students grasp the concept.

Electromagnetic Spectrum

The electromagnetic spectrum of light, or a simple colour wheel, can show your students where warm colours and cool colours begin and end. Beginning with red, a warm colour, the colours gradually become cooler until they end with violet-red (red, red-orange, orange, yellow-orange, yellow, yellow-green, green, blue-green, blue, blue-violet, violet, violet-red). The colours on the left side of the spectrum are warmer colours, the colours on the right end are cooler. Hand out a copy of the spectrum to your students so they can see the progression of colours.

Warm and Cool Things

Have your students point out things around them that are warm and cool. For example, your students may point out that the sun is yellow, which is a warm colour, or that the blue ocean is a cool colour. Hand out a worksheet of different things and objects such as fire, grass, flowers and fruits. Then have each student write whether the object can be categorised as a warm or cool colour.

Warm Versus Cool

Explain to your students that artists use warm and cool colours to convey different feelings. Warm colours are supposed to make you feel warm, happy, cheerful and excited. Cool colours are supposed to make your feel calm, relaxed and even sombre. Show your students famous works of art in which warm and cool colours are specifically used. "Water Lilies" (1906) and "San Giorgio Maggiore by Twilight," both by Claude Monet, are good examples of different paintings using warm and cool colours.

Warm and Cool Project

Show your students how warm and cool colours can alter paintings and drawings with a simple project. Hand out two identical colouring-book pages to each student. Instruct them to colour one page using only warm colours. When finished, they will colour the second page using only cool colours. When the two pages are coloured, have each student examine the pages and describe how they make the person feel different. Even though they are the same picture, the different colours will convey different feelings.

Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author

Andrea Griffith has been writing professionally since 2005. Her work has been published by the "Western Herald," Detroit WDIV, USAToday and other print, broadcast and online publications. Although she writes about a wide range of topics, her areas of expertise include fashion, beauty, technology and education. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and English from Western Michigan University.