Color theory for beginners
Learn how to mix colors and control value, understand the difference between warm and cool colors, and gain the confidence to paint anything.

Most of us are familiar with the color wheel, which essentially looks like a rainbow in circle form. Many of us have probably even heard of color theory — or, even if we haven’t, can guess what it means — but non-artists likely don’t realize how much of an impact understanding color theory can make on their art.

At its core, color theory is the study of colors and how they interact with each other (and the color wheel is a basic tool for understanding these relationships). But there is so much more to color theory than that, including color value and warm and cool colors. Whether you are drawing or painting a landscape, a portrait, or a piece of abstract art, understanding the basic principles of color theory will make a huge impact on how you approach your creative experience.

In this fun and quick (most classes are only around 5 minutes!) eight-part course on color theory, we break down the basic fundamentals of color, then guide you through applying what you’ve learned in each chapter to painting a varied version of a fun and simple landscape.

Whether you are just getting started on your creative journey or need a refresher before you jump into more intensive painting experiences, you’ll learn how to mix colors and control value, understand the difference between warm and cool colors, and gain the confidence to paint anything you put your mind to!

Chapter 1: Introduction

In this introductory chapter, Ana will introduce you to the basics of color theory, providing you with the basis of knowledge that you can build upon in each subsequent chapter as you start to apply color theory to your own paintings.

Listen along to this fun and quick intro before diving into the next chapter, where you start to learn about the color wheel and the differences between warm and cool colors.


Chapter 2: The Color Wheel

In this chapter, Ana breaks down the color wheel into primary, secondary, warm, and cool colors and shows how the three primary colors alone can work together to make warm and cool secondary colors.

Grab your paint and put the basics of color theory to the test as you mix different combinations of red, yellow, and blue to create various hues of orange, purple, and green!


Chapter 3: Experimenting with warm & cool colors

Apply what you learned in the last chapter to create a simple landscape painting with only warm or cool colors. In this session, you’ll also learn about analogous colors and how to use them to create attractive color schemes within a warm or cool color palette.

Follow along with Ana in painting this simple landscape with only cool colors, or challenge yourself to do the opposite — using only warm colors!


Chapter 4: Color value

In this chapter, you will learn about color value and how it contributes to the depth and dimension of your paintings.

Watch as Ana shows you how to mix different combinations of black and white paint to create a spectrum of gray, then see how applying these mixtures to any single color can manipulate its value to create a variety of shades.


Chapter 5: Experimenting with value

In this experience, you’ll use the knowledge you gained in the last video to paint a grayscale or monochrome version of a simple landscape.

Using the same composition as the landscape you created in the warm/cool color palette exercise, you’ll see the amazing impact that value has on the depth and dimension of your painting. Follow along with Ana in painting in grayscale, or challenge yourself with a monochromatic palette to fully experience the power of value in color.


Chapter 6: Complementary colors

This chapter covers complementary colors, and while this has nothing to do with colors telling each other they look good, it has everything to do with colors making each other look good!

In this video, Ana teaches you how to use complementary colors in your paintings, from making each color pop by placing them close together to creating a neutral color by mixing equal parts of both.


Chapter 7: Experimenting with complementary colors

In this session, Ana guides you through painting a simple landscape using everything you just learned about complementary colors from the last chapter.

Grab your paints, choose a pair of complementary colors to be the co-stars of your color palette, and apply what you have learned to create a painting that truly pops.


Chapter 8: Tying it all together

In the final chapter, you’ll apply everything you’ve learned throughout the course to create a color-cohesive landscape painting!

Using the same composition as you have in each exercise thus far, Ana walks you through the complete painting process as you tie all of the fundamentals of color theory together, from creating new color mixtures and manipulating the shade of colors to harmonizing the warmth and coolness of complementary colors and depicting depth and dimension with value.