Book a Class

Experiments for Idle Time - Determining Warm or Cool

color watercolor Apr 22, 2020

Yesterday I was contacted by a student who recently signed up for The Color Scheme Game class. He requested faster access to the lessons, having an abundance of idle time in our present pandemic circumstances.  New lessons in most of my classes on Explore With Chris Carter are made available on a weekly basis.  There is a very good reason for this.

The Skillshare classes are shorter and lead to a finished product of one sort or another.  As a Premium member you can take any of the courses taught by any of the tutors on Skillshare.  They are not only art classes.  There are thousands of classes to chose from and one would have absolutely no idle time to spare.  You can try out a Premium Membership for free, receiving a two month trial period during which time you can classes 24/7 if you wish.  If you've had enough after two months, you can cancel your membership and you haven't been charged a penny.  Here's a link to my page where you can take advantage of this offer:

Unlike my classes on Skillshare, the classes on Explore are more in-depth classes, meant to be both enjoyable as well as informative, leading to mastery of the skill or technique presented. They are designed to present artists of all levels with important skills to learn and, with enough practice, to master.  Though I had painted for over thirty years, color was a weakness ... until I decided to retreat to my studio and teach myself color from scratch. Three years later, after a daily practice of playing The color Scheme Game, I emerged from my studio with color as a strength, rather than a weakness.  As the artists who have attended my live workshops know, I teach skills so that each artist can apply the skill in her own way, not as an imitation of my style.  Most of my students leave my workshops without a piece of artwork to hang on the wall.  Instead, they have the expanded knowledge and ability to create unlimited works of art that express themselves more clearly than they were able to before the workshop.  

It's crucial to develop a consistent habit of drawing and painting, whatever that might be for you.  It might be every day, every other day, or only twice a week.  Once a week is not enough to really grasp a new concept, especially color.  Before you move on to the next step in one of my Explore classes, I want to make sure that you've had enough time to repeat the exercise and reinforce what you learned from the lesson.  Then, and only then, are you ready for the next lesson.  The goal isn't to finish the class, it's to learn from the class. I also don't want anyone to feel the pressure of being behind because they haven't had time to digest the lesson.

I was also contacted by a student who informed me that, due to the present circumstances, she now has time to dedicate to improving her skills and wished to subscribe to the Master Passport of Explore With Chris Carter, which is no longer available. Rather than send additional bonus experiments and videos to my Master Passport subscribers, I decided to post those extra items for free, here on my blog.  I just hadn't gotten around to it until now, after receiving Diane's request.

Warning ... Today's experiment is tedious, perfect to put you into a meditative state, replacing any idleness one might be experiencing.  It's not at all something one would want to do when on the go or engaged in the rush of life.  This activity was part of my initial color-reprogramming that I did following the 2008 economic crisis. I realized my time would be better spent honing skills than exhibiting in galleries that had been profitable for me prior to 2008 and were no longer profitable after the crisis.

Color Charts!!!  (I can hear the groans.). Just do it.  You'll be happy that you did.  You'll find them useful reference when taking any of my color classes both on Explore and Skillshare.

1.  Gather ALL of your pigments, even the pan pigments that are in tins, travel kits, kid's paint sets.  Sort them into yellows, blues, reds, greens, violets, browns and grays.  What about the oranges?  Decide whether your orange can live with the yellows or the reds ... or, if you wish, make a pile of oranges.

2. Using either the back of a painting that didn't work out, or a fresh sheet of watercolor paper, make swatches of each pigment making sure that the swatch reveals its darkest, most saturated state as well as a diluted state.   I call this a graduated swatch. Label each swatch with the pigment name, the manufacturer and any other information you wish to include.  You may want to include the permanency rating and the code for the pigment.

3. To save time, make a second set of swatches as you are creating your color charts.  Cut small pieces of watercolor paper approximately 2" x 4" and create another graduated wash of each color covering the strip completely, leaving no white along the edges.  Label these swatches.


Now ... what do you do with these?  How are they useful?

 Determine, for each pigment, whether it is a warm or cool version of the primary (yellow, blue, red) or secondary (green, violet, orange) color.

You are now fine-tuning your ability to discern the character of a color.

It's a cool yellow if it tends toward blue (or green) rather than red (or orange).

It's a warm yellow if it tends toward red (or orange) rather than blue (or green).

It's a warm green if it tends toward yellow rather than blue.

It's a cool green if it tends toward blue rather than yellow.

It's a cool blue if it tends toward yellow (or green) rather than red (or violet).

It's a warm blue if it tends toward red (or violet) rather than yellow (or green).

It's a cool violet if tends toward blue rather than red.

It's a warm violet if it tends toward red rather than blue.

It's a cool red if it tends toward blue (or violet) rather than yellow (or orange).

It's a warm red if it tends toward yellow (or orange) rather than blue (or violet).

It's a cool orange if it tends toward yellow rather than red.

It's a warm orange if it tends toward red rather than yellow.

2. The separate swatches may be used to determine a three pigment limited palette that you can choose when playing The Color Scheme Game or when experimenting in any other way with a limited palette.  This doesn't have to be restricted to only three pigments, but beginning with only three, one of each primary, you can readily see that your choice of pigments will make a significant difference in the mood of your painting.

Look carefully at the one on the left and the one in the middle.  At first, they may look the same to you.  Look more carefully and you will see the differences. These are very important differences when it comes to mixing your greens, violets and oranges.

Most importantly ... don't burn out while making these.  Do a few at a time and keep track of which pigments you've used to make swatches.  You can continue to add to these.

Neutrals:  The browns grays and blacks are also either warm or cool.  Take a look and determine the temperature of each.



Thinking about taking an online art courses?  I offer bite-sized classes on Skillshare as well as more comprehensive classes here on

If you aren't already a premium member on Skillshare, please check it out.  You receive a two month trial period totally free when you click on my link:

Most popular skillshare classes are the Pulling the Puddle watercolor technique (Series of four classes) and the Color Wheel Mandala class. (Part I and II are now available, Part III and Part IV will be available later this month.)

I'm creating most of the classes on Skillshare as bite-size classes within a series.  Each series, as I complete it will be bundled together with additional lessons added to it to create a more comprehensive course here on for artists who truly want to learn new skills and master their current skills.

Most popular classes on Explore are The Color Scheme Game and the Creating Dala and the Drawing Alternative I courses.

Thanks for reading my blog!


Join my mailing list to receive notification of new blog posts and update on the  online courses.
Don't worry, your information will not be shared.

We hate SPAM. We will never sell your information, for any reason.