There are three primary colours – Red, Yellow and Blue; these are colours which cannot be mixed using other pigments.
There are also three secondary colours – Orange, Green and Purple these are created by mixing two of the primary colours together :-
ORANGE = Red and Yellow; GREEN = Yellow and Blue; PURPLE = Blue and Red
The Primary colours and the secondary colours make up the six main hues of the spectrum.
When you mix a primary colour with an adjacent secondary colour the result is known as a tertiary colour therefore yellow and orange produce a yellow/orange; red and orange produce a red/orange; yellow and green produces a yellow/green and so forth.
We tend to describe colour a little loosely, red for example can actually be bluish red or yellowish red, or dark and light red. There is a more practical basic vocabulary which is very useful:-
Hue is more commonly referred to as colour, a particular blue can be of a specific hue (quality of colour) distinguishable from any other. The hue can be altered by mixing it with red to create a purplish blue this is a change in hue. It is believed that approximately ten million hues can be differentiated by normal human vision.
Saturation is the purity of a hue, other words that could be used are :- intensity, colorfulness, purity or chroma weight.
Tonal value is how dark or light a colour may be, colours diluted with white are known as a TINT colours mixed with black are known as a SHADE.
Analogous colours are adjacent to each other on the colour wheel; harmonious is the same as analogous.
Complementary colours are found opposite each other on the colour wheel, RED – GREEN: BLUE – ORANGE; YELLOW – PURPLE. There is a complimentary for every hue, they balance each other as well as excite each other and if mixed produce a neutral grey.
Monochrome is black, white and grey, or, varying shades of a single hue. Colour relationships and choosing the right saturation and tone is as important as choosing the right hue. Colour in nature can be of great intensity or beautiful subtlety.
Featured image Windermere from Waterhead by Murray Ince