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Year 7 Art. Elements of Design COLOUR. COLOUR.

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Year 7 art

Year 7 Art

Elements of Design



Colour is a painter’s tool. Because there are so many colours to choose from artist’s need to understand how colours work. Painters in early times had to make their own colours from nature – rocks, charcoal and clay. Cave men and Australian aborigines painted this way. They were limited in the colours they could obtain – ochres mainly. Today chemists manufacture paints for us and huge range of hues is available. There are some colour rules we need to learn to help us paint and to understand the work of other painters.

Primary colours
Primary Colours

Primary Colours are the first colours from which all other colours are made. You cannot mix other colours to make them. They are:


In the boxes on your worksheet paint a sample of each of the primary colours and label each box on the line underneath the corresponding box.

Secondary colours
Secondary Colours

Secondary Colours are created when you mix two primary colours together. Have a go at mixing the primary colours together and fill in the missing words on your worksheet.

Red+ Yellow =Orange

Yellow + Blue =Green

Red + Blue =Purple

Colour wheel
Colour Wheel

This is a colour wheel. Using paint, colour in the colour wheel on your worksheet.

Tertiary colours
Tertiary Colours

Tertiary colours are made by mixing combinations of secondary colours. These colours are muddy browns and greens. Different amounts of the colours give variations in tertiary colours, but here is a simple guide to follow:

Orange + Green = Olive

Green + Purple = Khaki

Purple + Orange = Brown

Warm colours
Warm Colours

Such colours as red, red-purple, orange and yellow are associated with fire, sun, sand, anger, liveliness and action. They seem to generate heat and warmth. In a painting these colours appear closer, that is, they advance to the front because they are more intense (brighter).

Cool colours
Cool Colours

Colours such as blue, green, blue-violet and lime are associated with water, sky, rainforests, night, cold and restfulness. They have an absence of warmth and will tend to sink back and appear further away in a painting, that is, they recede.

Complimentary colours
Complimentary Colours

Complimentary colours are strongly contrasting. There is a formula you can use to find the correct pairs of colours:

Primary colour two missing primary colours mixed equal thecomplimentary colour

BLUE ------------------------(Red + Yellow) -------------------- = ORANGE

YELLOW ---------------------(Red + Blue) ---------------------- = PURPLE

RED -------------------------(Blue + Yellow) ---------------------= GREEN

This can also be done in reverse. Can you complete this table on your worksheet?

Secondary ColourComplementary Colour

ORANGE = ---------------------(Red + Yellow) ----------------_______________

____________ = --------------------(Blue +______) --------------- YELLOW

____________ = --------------------(Yellow + Blue) -----------------______________

Artwork analysis
Artwork Analysis

Follow the links below to see some examples of artworks where the artists have used warm colours

  • Russell Drysdale, The drover’s wife

  • Claude Monet, Meules, milieu du jour (Haystacks, midday)

    Follow the links below to see some examples of artworks where the artists have used cool colours

  • Sidney Nolan, Ned Kelly

  • Claude Monet, Nympheas (Waterlilies)