PART 1: The theory

The colour wheel is built on three colours: red, yellow, and blue. All other colours can be mixed from these three colours (plus black or white). After watching the short videos, answer the questions below. You may also illustrate your answer with an image. Show that you understand the 8 keywords below:

Primary – There are 3 primary colours:

  1. Yellow
  2. Blue
  3.  Red

Secondary – Secondary colours are made up from primary colours which are red, blue, yellow, These are the secondary colours:

  1. Yellow and Purple
  2. Orange and Blue
  3. Red and Green

These colours are opposite to each other on the wheel.

Complementary – By looking at the wheel and matching the opposite side (warm and hot) the colours will complement each other and balance each colour out. For example yellow, red, green and purple.

2 secondary

Analogous – Analogous are the colours beside another colour on the wheel, these colours don’t have to complement each other. For example if you look at the colour wheel beside red is orange and purple.

Warm – Warm colours are red, orange and yellow. These colours are more eye catching as they are bright.

Cool – Cool colours are blue, green and purple. These colours are opposite to warm colours, they are more relaxing and calm colours.

Natural – Natural colours are painting which are real life so like normal colours, for example you would paint the sky blue because its the reality.


Arbitrary – Arbitrary colours are colours which defy the reality of colours for example if you were to paint water red or someones skin pink. Paintings that consist of arbitrary colours usually portray emotions and feelings stronger than natural colour paintings.




Morning on the Seine near Giverny, 1897

Claude Monet (French, 1840- 1926)

Oil on canvas; 32 1/8 x 36 5/8 in. (81.6 x 93 cm)

Claude Monet uses a blurring/smudging effect and uses cool colours in this painting.


La Berceuse, 1889

Vincent van Gogh (Dutch, 1853- 1890)

Oil on canvas; 36 1/2 x 29 in. (92.7 x 73.7 cm)

Vincent van Gogh painted this painting using the Arbitrary theory by making the ladies skin yellow.


Woman with a Hat, 1905

Henri Matisse (French,1869-1954)

Oil on canvas 31 cm x 24 cm

Woman with a hat also uses the same theory as the La Berceuse painting as its also Arbitrary as the colours are far from reality.


Relational Painting No. 64, 1953

Fritz Glarner (American, born Switzerland, 1899–1972)

Oil on canvas 20 x 20 in. (50.8 x 50.8 cm)

This painting uses secondary colours which orange and blue.


Summer 1965, 1965

Hans Hofmann (American (born Germany) 1880-1966)

Oil on canvas; H. 72, W. 48 inches (182.9 x 121.9 cm.)

Working Title/Artist: Homage to the Square: Soft Spoken Department: Modern Art Culture/Period/Location:  HB/TOA Date Code:  Working Date: 1969 photography by mma 2001, transparency #2a DT1088.tif retouched by film and media (jn) 10_13_06

Homage to the Square: Soft Spoken, 1969

Josef Albers (American, born Germany, 1888–1976)

Oil on Masonite 48 x 48 in. (121.9 x 121.9 cm)

This painting uses cool colours which gives it a calm relaxing feeling.



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