"We see nothing truly until we understand it"~ John Constable


Intensity -
the brightness or dullness of color.




The World of Color



All images used on this website have been used with permission by the authorized museums or license holders. All other graphics are the property of the Art Apprentice Online, LLC.




visa mastercard Discover amercian express

We accept Credit Cards via and Paypal secure servers.

Electronic Commerce 



We believe ...

“He who wishes to become a master of color must see, feel, and experience each individual color in its endless combinations with all other colors.” Johannes Itten, 1888-1967


What does the word Hue mean? - There are two distinct uses for the word 'Hue'

First it is used to describe a color family ...'Hue' is the word used to describe the color family. For example, if 'Sky Blue' is the color we mean, we would say that sky blue is a blue 'Hue' or belongs to the blue family of colors as opposed to the 'Green' family or Green Hue. Hue is generally used to describe the spectrum colors found on the color wheel.

Hues of Color

Color comes in many Hues


Above are several 'Hues'. One can see that all the red colors come from the 'red family' on the left of the chart and if we could describe them, we would say they are the Red Hues. The same could be said for the Yellow Hues on the right, etc. etc.

The term Hue is also used to suggest a 'copy' of a particular common color...

Paint manufacturers will use the word 'Hue' to describe a pigments color, for example in the Traditions line the mixed color of Prussian Blue is referred to as a Hue. This color is described on the label as Prussian Blue Hue. This means that the paint's color is closely matched to 'copy' or to 'resemble' the original pigment that was used to make Prussian Blue. In some cases a company may choose to use a different pigment or a combination of pigments to mirror the original 'color' because the original pigment may be either toxic, fugitive, perform inadequately or even be too costly to use. In the case of Prussian Blue Hue, the original pigment was fugitive (fades easily) so when the color was made it was replaced and the color emulated with non fading pigments.

What does the word color in Color Theory refer to?

'Color'... is the term generally used to 'describe' the concept or subject of red, yellow, blue, green etc. Too often, the language of color is used incorrectly or too generally.

'Color Theory'... is the study of the whole subject and the working relationships of these colors which make up the spectrum. Different theories are offered for this general discussion, and many still provoke debate.


This color wheel shows the placement of Hues as they sit on the wheel, relative to each other. Red at 12 o'clock, sits between Red Violet and Red Orange. Yellow at 3 o'clock, sits between Yellow Orange and Yellow Green. Regardless of how you turn the wheel, the colors will always sit next to each other in the same order.

The correct way to view a color wheel is with red placed at 12 o'clock, like in the example above. Red is the longest wavelength in the spectrum and seen first.

What is a Color Wheel? - A Standard or Classical Color Wheel - 12 Hues

A 'Color wheel' is a visual tool used by artists to show color relationships. These colors make up the spectrum of color. Artists will often refer to this tool to help them select popular 'color schemes' which are certain 'groups' of colors which work in harmony with each other.


Color Wheels come in many varieties. The use of the term 'wheel' means that the tool is usually presented in a circle and can also be referred to as a color circle.


color strip

The balanced artist's palette is generally made up of all the colors in the spectrum

What is a Pigment Wheel?

The pigment wheel is a two dimensional depiction of Munsell's Color Solid. The artist and scientist Albert Munsell created a three dimensional object called a Color Solid which is a spherical or globe shaped object used to map and measure all colors in the spectrum. The Munsell color system is used universally as a method for mapping the properties of color. It was first used as a way to describe the properties of soil for the US Department of Agriculture so they could standardize the language used by different departments. They wished to describe the properties of the color of soil samples such as their hue (color), value (lightness or darkness) and intensity (brightness or dullness) so it could be described with a standard language.

JansenArt Traditions Technical Guide pigment Wheel
Artist Technical Guide
The Traditions Pigment Wheel o
Visit the Art Apprentice Online Store for details about the Artist Technical Guide Book. This is a valuable reference book about pigments, techniques and also explains the rationale of the pigment wheel which is an important mixing tool for the artist.

The pigment wheel is a visual tool used to show the permanent 'home address' or location of certain pigments relative to the neutral grays at the center core of the wheel. The artist then uses this information to ascertain or predict if a pigment will perform in a particular manner. That is, by its position on the pigment wheel the artist can tell if it is an intense pigment or a toned pigment.

Traditions Art Education has based its core color theory on the use and understanding of the pigment wheel. Students who study along with this education system benefit from understanding this information as it helps them mix color easily and efficiently. If you are interested in learning more about this pigment system, see the information on the Traditions link in the menu. The pigment wheel is featured in the Artist Technical Guide Book.

What is meant by the term Color Scheme?

A color scheme is a pairing or grouping of predetermined colors from the color wheel. These combinations of colors work together in a harmonious fashion. Color schemes help us define the mood of the design project as well as offer variety within the chosen scheme.

Understanding what determines a workable color arrangement is often overwhelming for the novice artist. The untrained eye will often struggle with what goes together. Using a predetermined color scheme will serve the artist well, as it can provide a simple guide or a set of boundaries within which to work.

Artist Gabriele Hunter - Art Apprentice Online

Complimentary Color Scheme - Two Hues

A Complementary 'color scheme' of two hues - Red and Green serve to create a dynamic coupling. A complementary color scheme is full of energy and can offer excitement to the composition. These two colors which sit across the color wheel from each other are full of life and pizzazz! This design was created and painted by artist Gabriele Hunter, one of the founding members of the Art Apprentice Online.


There are many different color schemes.

  • Monochromatic - One Hue
  • Achromatic - These are Black and White and shades of gray in between that have been slightly tinted with one of the three primary colors of (red, blue, or yellow) to read either cool or warm.
  • Complementary - Two Hues - These sit opposite to each other on the color wheel.
  • Split complement - Three Hues - One Hue grouped with two others that sit on either side of the first color's compliment. e.g. (Red, Yellow Green, Blue Green)
  • Triad - Three Hues - Colors equally spaced from each other on the color wheel.
  • Double Split complement - Four Hues - These are four colors from either side of a complementary pair (eg. Complements:Violet and Yellow) Colors on either side:Red Violet, Blue Violet, Yellow Green, Yellow Orange.
  • Analogous - Three to five Hues - These sit side by side on the color wheel and share one color in common.
  • Analogous Split or Analogous with a complementary discord Three to five Hues plus small amounts of one another. This scheme groups three analogous colors with small quantities of the complement of the main color used.
  • Tetrad - Four colors equally spaced on the color wheel
  • Polychromatic - Twelve Hues - All twelve colors of the color wheel.

Twice as nice...

This floral design, painted by artist Gaby Hunter from the Art Apprentice Online was featured in 'Painting' magazine available on your magazine rack in stores now. April 2008 issue.


  • Summer Poppies By Gaby Hunter, HA - This painting lesson below will show the student how to work with a complementary color scheme. This is an e-packet and is available for your immediate download as soon as it is purchased.



The Psychology of Color and what does this mean?

Colored Beads Colored Beads

All cultures have used color in some way or another. Color can have profound effects on our moods, our thoughts and bring back memories regarding pivotal events in our lives. The Native Aboriginal peoples of North America have used colored beads to describe certain stories told through their intricate weaving and beadwork patterns. As seen in the photos above, this huge collection of jars full of brightly colored beads sit waiting for busy fingers to tell many stories.

Some colors are traditionally connected to good luck, while others to bad luck, some associated with wealth, while others with sickness and death. Have you ever wondered why men relate to certain colors in a different manner and women to others? This is all part of the psychology of Color. Millions of dollars are spent each year by marketing and advertising firms to research the effects of color perception - all because certain colors cause some people to respond differently, and cultures, climates, environments and personal beliefs play into the success of a color choice.

Colors causes us to pay attention, it affects our senses, our memory, and our purchasing. Have you thought about the choice of colors you paint with and how they may affect your ability to sell your work?

So what effect does color have on us?

There have been many studies to document the effects colors have on how we feel both physically and mentally and also on our perception of the world.  We refer to the results from these studies as the Psychology of Color.

Nancy J. Stone and Anthony J. English tested the affects of color in the work place and it’s correlation to performance in a 1999 study.  They discovered that a red office is more stimulating and increased performance but that it could also cause tension and anger.  Red has been found to elevate blood pressure and make the heart beat faster.  It is stimulating and gives us energy.  In the Stone and English study they also found that a blue office was more soothing, relaxing and calming but could also produce fatigue.  Those with a blue office also exhibited greater sadness and depression.  Blue has also been demonstrated to slow the pulse rate and to reduce appetite.

Participants working in white offices had more headaches and cases of nausea.  It is also widely believed that white provides a feeling of freedom and uncluttered openness but that too much of it can cause feelings of isolation.

Pink is a color that that has been shown to take the fight out of people and has been used in football locker rooms for the guest opponents and in jail houses - Pink has demonstrated an ability to make strong men weak. 

Yellow is the first color the human eye notices and it is the color nearest to light.  Because of this it is a stimulating color that is highly visible and catches our attention first because of the way the mind and eye work.  Yellow has also been shown to make us more alert and decisive.  It causes excitement and sparks our interest.

Orange and Yellow

Orange is similar to yellow and has the ability to stimulate liveliness, alertness and energetic behavior.

Greens have a calming and soothing effect.  Greens provide feelings of well being and balance.

Purple, a combination of violet and blue has been shown to balance the mind and help transform fears and obsessions.    It seems to have an emotional cleansing effect and promotes feelings of compassion and spirituality.  Purple is also a color that stimulates sensitivity and creativity.

The psychological effect of black can be one of comfort and protection.  It is also shown to have passive effects that prevent personal growth and change. It is thought that people who are generally well adjusted to the world like color in general and warm colors in particular.  Individuals who are more inwardly integrated may not be too enthusiastic about any colors but have a tendency to favor cool colors.  

The psychology of color is interesting to think about and could be a helpful consideration as we plan our paintings, however, we must remember that sensitivity to color and our reaction to it can vary significantly from one individual to the next.  In his book, The Power of Color, Dr. Morton Walker explains that even though we may not realize it, color can have a great effect on how we feel mentally and physically.  He also explains that there are emotional associations tied to some colors and that it is important to keep both of these in mind when we are seeking to create a specific mood.


byzantine byzantine byzantine
Title:Color and Meaning: Art, Science, and Symbolism
Author: John Gage
ISBN: 0520226119
General Topic: Color
Title:Color and Culture: Practice and Meaning from Antiquity to Abstraction
Author: John Gage
ISBN: 0520222253
General Topic:Color
Title:Color Codes: Modern Theories of Color in Philosophy,
Author: Charles A. Riley II
ISBN: 0874517427

For centuries artists have used color to communicate their moods, feelings, and subtle messages. The human experience allows us to make connections between color and the memory that it evokes from us...

Symbolism of Color

Much has been written and published regarding the symbolism of the colors our lives are surrounded by.   Colors arouse emotions and cause us to make evaluations and judgments according to the personal or public symbolism associated with them.

If we can identify the emotions and response we want from those who view our work, referencing color symbolism can  provide ideas of where to start and what color schemes  we should consider.  Colors symbolize different things in different cultures and it would be beneficial if you are able to know the audience your work is being created for.

The list below is not meant to be all inclusive or otherwise complete, but rather to provide only a basic and widely accepted interpretations, symbols, and ideas that have somehow become attached to color.

Red:  Love, Passion, Vigor, Danger/Warning, Anger, Fire.   In some Asian countries red is associated with weddings.

Pink:  Honor, Love, Morality, Femininity/ Dainty, Soft/Fragile.

Orange:  Encouragement, Stimulation, Attraction, Energy, Adaptability

Yellow:  Friendship, Attraction, Persuasion, Confidence, Intellect, Study, Divinations, God, the Sun, Excitement.

Gold:  The great God, Greed, Wealth, Opulence, Male

Yellow/Green:  Sickness, Cowardice, Anger, Jealousy, Rage/ Discord.

Green:  Finance, Fertility, Luck, Growth, Well Being,

Dark Blue:  Impulsiveness, Depression, Psychic, Changeability.

Light Blue:  Calm/Tranquility, Happiness, Understanding, Patience, Health, Water.

Violet / Lavender / Purple:  Relief from tension, Calming, Healing, Spiritualism, Mediation, Protection, Royalty, Opulence, the Divine.

Browns: Uncertainty, Hesitation, Neutrality, Poverty, Animals.

White:  Purity, Original Innocence, Protection, Peace, Truth, Sincerity, Spirituality, Respect, Goodness.  In Western cultures white is associated with weddings.

Silver/Gray:  Neutrality, Stalemate, Cancellation, Lack of commitment.

Black:  Evil, Loss, Discord/Confusion, Neutrality, Void, the Divine, Spirituality, Lack of Color, Lack of Light.

Yellow - Symbolic meaning of the hue 'Yellow'

yellow hues yellow rose

Pigments can have greatest effect if we understand their use and their properties. As well, hues may hold more interest for us if we understand more about their wider symbolic meaning and or their creative uses.  Using a particular hue in a painting to send a message or help us tell or support a story is using color not just for technical color balance and personal preference, but can become a powerful tool for us to take advantage of especially as we know that color can evoke strong emotional responses.
There is a particular high energy mood that can be created when true yellow is used as the dominant hue in a painting, but if we think of the broader interpretation of this color and how it can have a bias or lean towards yellow-orange as well as yellow-green we can see its wider potential for use in paintings.
For example:

  • Artists can use intense yellow hues to create 'movement' within a painting. The eye will follow this color, so the artists can use it to move and pull the eye through the painting - the power of the hue!
  • Yellow can be a very expressive color. It can also add quite a lot of interest and 'Wow' to our paintings. Think of it like adding sunshine!
  • Imagine a room painted in Hansa Yellow!  Wow! Hard to relax in there! Primary yellow can express the sun and all its life giving energy. Yellow when used in a painting can exhibit this same energy! Yellow, especially primary yellow is naturally very bright or intense color
  • Primary yellows as seen in the flowers of 'spring' express movement, change, and motion. This color yellow is used on fast sports cars, sports equipment, summer toys, beach chairs and hot air balloons. 
  • Now let's look at a yellow hue that leans towards yellow-orange. This beautiful amber-ish color can be welcoming and warm, like a soft shawl wrapped around us on a windy fall day!
  • Yellows that lean to yellow orange can create a welcoming warmth and sunlit mood in a painting.
  • Palest yellow that leans a little to amber (soft yellow orange) can be a very elegant color and makes an understated classical statement. Interior decorators are very fond of this color because it creates a perfect backdrop to support so many other hues in furnishings and home decor. Think of the warmth of antique woods and how this would be complimented by a very pale yellow background. many traditional and historic homes use soft yellows for the design palette. It is a safe color to decorate with.
  • Lighter and brighter yellows that lend themselves towards yellow-greens are fresh and new, like spring. They send a message of youth and new birth.  This can be a very trendy color when used in decorating, but in a painting, it can inject spring, new growth and vitality. Can you imagine a beautiful rose in full bloom, and a few lovely little rose leaves with punches of yellow green placed here and there?

Glossary of color terms...

  • Hue - The term used to refer to the color Red hue, Blue hue etc.
  • Value - The term used to refer to the lightness or darkness of a color.
  • Intensity - The term used to refer to the brightness or dullness of a color.
  • Temperature - The relative coolness or warmth of a color.
  • Tone - A hue that has been mixed with an earth pigment or gray.
  • Tint - A color that has been mixed with White.
  • Shade - A hue that has been mixed with Black.

Some artist use hue, value, and intensity instinctively - others study Color Theory.