Watercolor Tips: Warm vs. Cool Reds

Have you been wanting to learn more about warm and cool colors? And maybe more about painting with Daniel Smith Watercolors? Sandy and Lisa are here to help!

Watercolor Tips: Warm vs. Cool Reds

Hi all! It’s Lisa and Sandy here with another post in our color series. (Find our January post about the Pantone Color of the Year right HERE!) Since February is all about Valentine’s Day we decided to choose All The Pinks and Reds for our colors this month, LOL! To kick things off we’re going to focus on the two reds in the Daniel Smith Essentials set: Quinacridone Rose and Pyrrol Scarlet. This set is such a great set to have in your toolbox. 

Lisa will kick things off with a simple card made from swatches — take it away, Lisa!

Hi all! Here’s a peek at my card!

Watercolor Tips: Warm vs. Cool Reds

Now for the story behind those hearts! You see, I received the DS Essentials set for Christmas a few years ago and I’ve learned so much from it. The set comes with a warm and cool version of each of the primary colors for endless mixing possibilities. Mix the warm and cool versions together and you’ll get a “neutral” color — so nifty! Sandy will have more about warm vs cool colors in her video below.

In this case I mixed Quinacridone Rose and Pyrrol Scarlet for the most vibrant red ever.

Watercolor Tips: Warm vs. Cool Reds

So much better than any red I’ve found straight from a tube. It can be a little tricky to get it “true” red right away as that Pyrrol Scarlet is so darn overpowering. But it’s worth it. Just keep adding touches of either color until you get it how you like it.

Watercolor Tips: Warm vs. Cool Reds

Check out this video in my instagram stories to see it all in action!

I love how Pyrrol Scarlet fades to a lovely light peach color — and that Quinacridone Rose — oh my! 

Watercolor Tips: Warm vs. Cool Reds

So if you know me, you’ll know that I love playing with color in a no-pressure way, and making giant swaths of color is just so fun! If ever I have a creative block I’ll just sit down and make some big patches of color. The next thing I know my wheels will be turning and a card will almost magically make itself — and that was the case here! 

Watercolor Tips: Warm vs. Cool Reds

I die cut those swatches with the lil hearts from All Inside – this is one of my favorite sets of all time you all! 

And then I had to give Mr. Bear a heart to hold too. By the way, his gray shading was done with last month’s color, Prussian Blue, mixed with venetian red. (Find out more about that HERE.)

Watercolor Tips: Warm vs. Cool Reds

I got a little carried away making those hearts, so I had enough for another card — or better yet, confetti!! HA! But I had to share one tip with ya — I like to store extra hearts right in the packaging inside a glassine envelope. Because you just never know when you’ll need a heart amiright? 

Watercolor Tips: Warm vs. Cool Reds

I thought about adding some bling to the card but then I decided to keep it on the clean and simple side to really let the watercolors shine! The only addition was the “you are here” arrow from EBE High Five.


And now it’s Sandy’s turn!

I’ve been asked about warm and cool colors a lot – so when Lisa and I were choosing a color to play with this month and “reds and pinks” came up, it seemed like such a great opportunity to talk about which is which, in a simple way with just one hue: reds.

Watercolor Tips: Warm vs. Cool Reds

Like Lisa, I’m also comparing Quinacridone Rose and Pyrrol Scarlet, but I’ve added a third color that I was curious about; I bought Bordeaux, thinking it looked like a really interesting color.

Watercolor Tips: Warm vs. Cool Reds

I tested first by dropping some Bordeaux into wet swatches of the two reds to see what would happen, then did further testing on cards with each combo:

Since Quin Rose is a cool color, and the Bordeaux is a cool color, the blend is a natural one; Bordeaux just looks like a shadow color for the Rose. 

Watercolor Tips: Warm vs. Cool Reds

Pyrrol Scarlet is a warm red, which means it has more yellow to it; and if you think about the purplish Bordeaux, it leans a little bluer, so that means you have red, blue, and yellow in the mix with both of them. They do blend, but they create a bit of a neutralized color because of having all the primaries in one mix.

Watercolor Tips: Warm vs. Cool Reds

After my testing was complete, and I knew that Quin Rose and Bordeaux would work nicely together, I decided to see how the mix would play out in painting a fine art piece with pink flowers – trying to get good deep pinks by mixing has been hard, so Bordeaux turned out to be a nice color for that. I tried it over on my channel – see that video here.

Watercolor Tips: Warm vs. Cool Reds

Color theory can be really confusing – but please know that if you *don’t* understand it, that doesn’t mean you can’t paint – only that you’ll need to memorize which colors you like to use to mix the colors you want. If that works for you – then just rock on and paint your heart out!

Lisa and Sandy


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  • Reply melissaf123 February 6, 2020 at 7:42 am

    Wow, I love the study in reds and learned so much I can’t wait to try some things withthe reds I have. I love this blog series by 2 of my favorite water color artists, thank you!

  • Reply A Beary Swatchy Card! – sideoats & scribbles February 6, 2020 at 9:02 am

    […] all! My friend Sandy and I are continuing our color explorations over on the Ellen Hutson blog today — hope you’ll come and join us! […]

  • Reply barbara lassiter February 7, 2020 at 9:32 am

    Thank you! Love that Lisa and Sandy are willing to share with us what they’ve learned about color through their explorations! It’s encouraging and I end up with lots of swatches I can use in creating cards. Once upon a time, I found watercoloring to be intimidating, but now it’s just fun! 🙂

  • Reply Allison Bunt February 10, 2020 at 4:44 pm

    Lovely tutorials but Lisa’s link is broken and sadly I haven’t been able to watch hers. Hoping it can be reinstated. 💕

    • Reply Ellen Hutson LLC February 10, 2020 at 6:01 pm

      Hi Allison! We’re so sorry for the trouble! Lisa’s link goes to her Instagram Stories. When you click it does it take you to Instagram?

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