Drawing: Degas’ Warm Colors

The following post is written in a conversational style for young artists in grades K-3.  When reading to younger kids use the pause notation “—” to allow time for the child to respond.


This is French Impressionist artist Edgar Degas.

Self-portrait, 1895
Edgar Degas, 1895 Image credit Edgar-


Do you like to dance? — Most of Edgar Degas’ artwork featured ballerinas.  Look at this short video posted on YouTube by Accabadora.  It shows several Degas’ paintings of ballerinas.  Try to count the different works of art in this video.  How many did you discover? —



In the video, most of the ballerinas wore simple white tutus.  But their sashes, ribbons and hair bows were very colorful – orange, red, yellow and pink.   Artists describe these colors as warm colors because they make us think of things that are warm like a bright yellow sun or a blazing red fire.  When artists place warm colors next to cool colors (like green, blue or purple) the warm colors seem to jump out at you and the cool colors recede into the background.

Now lets look at this one ballerina art work by Degas

Dancer Rose, Edgar Degas Art Institute of Chicago
Dancer Rose, Edgar Degas  Image Credit Art Institute of Chicago

What are the warm colors found in her dress and hair decoration?–It is easy to see the red and yellow flowers in her hair.  What color is used for the wall?–Do you think this is a warm color or a cool color?–

Many artists use a color wheel to help them to decide which colors are cool and warm.  Lets use this color wheel to make art using warm colors!


Color Wheel Divided into Warm and Cool color groups.  Image credit


MATERIALS (Some art supplies available at ArtReach online.)

Warm colors are mostly found in the red and yellow family – Artists often use these colors to show excitement (reds) , cheerfulness (yellows) and comfort (browns).  Here are some ideas for drawing with warm colors:

  • Draw a big sandcastle on a beach
  • Draw a super fast race car leaping through a blazing ring of fire
  • Draw a hot food that is really spicy
  • What other warm colored drawings can you make?


Find out more about warm and cool colors by watching this great YouTube video by ehullquist.


Featured Image Credit: The Dance Lesson from