Reflected light is how we see color. Our eyes and brain “see” different colors through the different wavelengths of energy that light contains. When light hits an object, we see the colored light that reflects off the object.
Red, blue, and yellow are the primary colors. With paints of just these three colors, artists can mix them to create all the other colors. When artists mix pigments of the primary colors, they make secondary colors.
Red + Blue = Purple
Red + Yellow = Orange
Blue + Yellow = Green
Did you know that your computer screen also works by using three primary colors? But here, since the colors are light from the monitor and not paints, the three primaries are not the same. Instead, your computer screen mixes other colors from red, blue, and green.
One important thing painters know: using complementary colors—the ones across from each other on the color wheel (red-green, blue-orange, and yellow-purple)—make both colors seem brighter and more intense. They seem to vibrate and pop out at you, the viewer.
Warm colors—reds, yellows, oranges, and red-violets—are those of fire and the sun. They appear to project. Cool colors—blues, blue-greens, and blue-violets—are those of ice and the ocean. They appear to recede.


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