Get to Know your Colors: Red

Hi friends! So today we’re getting to a real powerful color, red! Finally we can start discussing pure colors, and red is the most attention-grabbing, powerful pure color there is. Let’s take a closer look!

color mixing red

The Color Red

Red is the warmest color on the color wheel.  There is no other color that reads hotter than red. It’s a positive color, associatd with our most primal needs: sex, hunger, power, and love.  It has a strong, masculine energy to it, and can energize any room or painting it’s in.  Red causes many different feeling in us when we see it -it is definitely not a boring color!

Color Wheel Location

Red is a primary color. This means that it cannot be created by mixing any other colors (although the CMYK color theory design would disagree with that). Red is located at the top of the color wheel, surrounded by the other colors it creates: red-oranges, orange, red-purples, and purple.

Mixing Red

According to the basic color theory rules, red is a primary color and therefore cannot be created.  The reds we use in paintings must come from a purchased tube of paint.  There are many different varieties of red available, ranging from cooler blue-reds to fiery hot orange-reds.  Cadmium red is a popular choice, as it is a very warm red that easily mixes with yellow to create a bright vibrant orange. Alizarin crimson, on the other hand, is a much darker, almost blood-colored red that reads much cooler than Cadmium red.  It is still hot as it is still red, but is more refined and not quite so wild-looking.  It also makes a beautiful dusty-rose color when tinted with white. Quinocridone red is another type of red, cooler again than Cadmium, but brighter than Alizarin.  It makes a bright hot pink when tinted with white, and it’s transparent nature makes it an excellent choice for glazing.

Having a variety of reds in your inventory is an excellent way to ensure that you’re able to make any colours you’re looking for. Keeping a wide variety of any primary color is good practice, as they cannot be made any other way.

The Psychology of Red

acrylic color mixing tutorialRed is a passionate, powerful color.  It stirs up our strongest emotions from lust and love to anger and vengeance (“seeing red” is a common term for becoming enraged).  It can do wonderful things like create life with it’s sexual energy, or destroy life with its aggression.  Red also stirs up our basic instincts for food, and is a common color for restaurants and dining rooms, as it can make us feel hungry.

As with other strong, attention-grabbing colors, the key to using red is moderation.  Your subject, like a cabin the woods, can be a warm red color, but make sure that same hot red isn’t used anywhere else, as it will pull the viewer’s eyes away from your subject.  Mixing cool and hot reds is a great way to balance out this strong color.  As with decorating your home, painting every wall in a room red can be much too overpowering, but keeping just one focus wall red will create the effects you want without overdoing it.

What are your thoughts on red??

Further Reading

Here’s a few more posts I’ve written concerning red:

CMYK Color Theory

Color Bias

Color Theory Basics

How to Mix Skin Tones

Thanks for reading, and till next time, keep creating!

-Ashley <3

Never miss a new post!

Sign up to receive new blog posts instantly, delivered directly to your inbox. Usually this is about once per week (this is NOT the monthly Studio Notes email, this is simply every new blog post mailed directly to you :)

Leave a Comment :)