Color theory may seem hard, but with the help of a color wheel, you can quickly learn the basics.

Color wheels show relationships between different colors. The three primary colors are red, blue, and yellow. Mixing any two of these together produces secondary colors, purple, green, and orange. Colors referred to as complementary are colors across from each other on the color wheel. These colors will brighten each other.

The tone relates how light or dark a color is. All colors have different tones, and the tones around it affect that color.

Colors are also described by temperatures. Warm colors include reds, oranges and yellows, cool colors include blues and greens as well as darker colors. A painting’s mood can be affected by the temperature.

A beginner should experiment with mixing colors. Start by making secondary colors. When mixing colors, add dark colors to light ones. Less dark color is needed to change a light color. Browns and grays can be difficult to mix. Ideal browns and grays are mixed from complementary colors.

The artist needs to experience color in its natural setting. A landscape may look only green and brown, but upon closer inspection, you’ll see that many other colors make it up.

Light plays an important role in determining color. The same color in the light or in shadow will look completely different. Shining a torch on a bottle of red wine is a good example. Without light, the bottle looks black. The area lit up by the torch glows red, varying towards the edge of the area of light. The opposite side of the bottle will also appear darker when the light is on the front.

Where shadows lie is determined by light. Shadows aren’t just gray areas, but they have color from the object creating the shadow. To give it realism, these elements should be put into the painting.

The use of color sets the mood of a painting. A new artist can have harmony in their painting with a bit of knowledge of tones and hues. Further experimentation can create a unique work of art. It is better to learn the basics of color theory and work within the guidelines of color use before experimenting with unusual color combinations. You must know the rules before you break them.

Author bio: Michael Chatman contributes to the wealth management advisor and alternative investments sites.