Paint and Colors

The Science of Paint and Color

Maybe they tried to teach you this in art class at school and you just thought, “why all those colors look great, why leave any out!” If you asked a five-year-old to pick the paint and colors for your house she’d probably use ALL of the colors on that wheel. And who knows? Maybe she’d be right.

But there are some things that seem to look pleasant together. Generally the paint and colors straight across from each other on the wheel are considered complementary, meaning good combinations. The adjoining ones are considered too close a hue and not so good together. But it is all a matter of taste.

  • The most basic paint and colors are the PRIMARY colors. Blue – Yellow – Red on our wheel.
  • The next group, SECONDARY colors, are halfway between the PRIMARY colors.
  • TERTIARY (third) colors are in between the PRIMARY and SECONDARY. That’s all. Just look at the wheel. It’s simple.

As well if you look at the wheel you can see the left side is mostly cool colors and the right side is the warmer paint and colors. These create different moods. For paint colors you would not usually use the pure vivid paint colors above unless you were painting a Daycare Center. So for adults we normally find paint colors easier on the eyes if we take the edge off a bit. This is done by mixing the pure paint colors with white, black or grey.

At the paint store, any colorant they throw in to change the paint and color is called “tint” but this is really a misnomer.

Tint means adding white to the mix, making it lighter and more subdued.

Tone is adding grey (which is really black + white).

Shade is adding black.

See my article on paint colors regarding exterior house painting and complementary color

Vancouver painter and contractor Peter Byrne
“PETER BYRNE is the owner and hands-on manager of Kassel Painting Limited. In the last two decades he has run over 1500 painting projects totalling $5.5M. There is little that can go right (or wrong) on a job-site he has not seen, solved, and lived to talk about.”

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