The Perfect List Of Warm And Cool Watercolors For Artists

Did you know that colors have temperatures? Yes, it’s true. For a long time – centuries, in fact – people have studied and discussed colors.

The study of color is not just an interesting academic and theoretical topic. It is also very useful and even essential for people interested in certain pursuits.

And artists, including watercolor painters, as well as many other people, enjoy the study of what are called warm and cool colors.

Let’s talk about the best list of warm and cool watercolors for artists starting with the six-point color wheel.

Six-Point Color Wheel

First, I need to explain more about color overall.

There is something called the six-point color wheel. It does look like the wheel on something like a car, and it includes three primary and three secondary colors.

I also want to mention that in addition to the six-point color wheel, some people have devised other color wheels.

how to draw a color wheel
12 point color wheel

How Can You Tell Which Colors Are Warm and Cool?

Any of the primary and secondary colors can have either warm or cool shades or variations. For example, there can be both warm reds and cool reds, although most people might assume that reds are always warm.

Also, there can be both warm blues and cool blues.

Some color shades can be cool, but they might still be warmer than certain other shades.

For example, a warm blue is cooler than a warm red even though they are both warm.

So that probably means that if you create a painting with both a warm blue and a warm red, the warm red would stand out more.

Some people think that warm colors advance and cool colors recede. This is why you might see a lot of warm colors used in paintings of sunsets or other scenes with a lot of depth. The warm colors help create the illusion of distance.

Of course, as with anything in art, there are always exceptions to the rule. You can use whatever colors you want to create whatever effect you’re going for in your painting.

Warm Colors

The warm colors are red, orange, and yellow and all the variations in between.

Warm colors tend to be easier to notice than cool colors. If you look at something like a picture or decorative item, you tend to see the warm colors before you see the cool colors. 

If you are creating a watercolor painting, it could have some prominent warm colors that really stand out. I think that would be bold and striking as an artistic and creative effect..

Another important item that I want to point out: Warm colors tend to be in the foreground such as in a watercolor painting.

Cool Colors

The cool colors are green, blue, and magenta.

If you place a warm color next to a cool color, the warm color will appear even warmer than on its own.

Although it’s very useful to be able to identify warm and cool colors from an artist’s standpoint, there are lists that sort colors into warm and cool categories.

Here is my best list of warm and cool watercolors:

list of warm and cool watercolors

You can download a printable version here:

Four Color Quadrants

Now I want to quickly touch on the four color quadrants. It is quite simple and straightforward.

The quadrants are: green-yellow, yellow-red, red-blue, and blue-green. They signify colors that are next to each other. 


No, colors don’t have opinions. They do lean in certain ways as far as what other colors they are similar to.

So for example, red can lean toward yellow, which is yellow bias, or it can lean toward blue, which is blue bias.

You can imagine how those two hues of yellow would look very different from each other.

Thus, your decision about which one to include in your watercolor painting would be very important, as far as what effect you achieve and what impact you create on anyone who views your painting. 

Mixing Colors

Now I want to go over the concept of mixing colors and how that relates to warm and cool colors. This is some really creative, interesting stuff, so pay close attention and let your creativity flow.

One thing to keep in mind is that when you are mixing paint colors, the temperatures – whether the colors are warm or cool – are very important.

You need to use colors together in mixtures that have similar qualities to each other.

This is easier to understand if I give you an illustration – no pun intended – also known as an example. So say you are mixing a yellowish red with a reddish yellow. The result? A bright secondary orange that really pops off the page.

This all relates back to what we just talked about when we mentioned bias.

The Best List Of Warm And Cool Watercolors For Artists – Wrap up!

Are you getting some ideas that will help your own creative work? I hope this list of warm and cool watercolors truly sparks your creativity.

Color mixing can be a bit daunting for new artists, but it doesn’t have to be! With a little knowledge about warm and cool colors, you can mix just about any color you can imagine.

Now that you know about warm and cool colors, you can explore the best list of warm and cool watercolors for artists. Artists often use color to evoke emotion in their paintings. By understanding how to mix different colors together, an artist can create a desired mood or feeling in their artwork.

As you continue your artistic journey, be sure to experiment with both warm and cool colors. Which ones work best for you? Share this post with your artist friends and see what they think!


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