Colour Theory: Colour Temperature for Concept Art

In regards to art, there is always an air of mystique. Principles on how it is created are commonly thought to be felt by the artist. It's as though the artist feels the answers, and paints it into reality. It's a genius talent not held by all. Through intuition the artist has a gift to create amazing works without education or formal understanding of a visual language. Similarly perhaps it's a feeling acquired over years and decades of practice.

In the context of colour temperature, artists feel it is another idea that is 'felt'. It is not as simple as to say "yellow is warm, blue is cool", because all colour is relative. What looks warm in one context, could look 'cool' in another context. "Simultaneous Contrast" a term popularly used, refers to this exact phenomenon.

An example of simultaneous contrast. displaying how yellow feels different in various colour combinations

An example of simultaneous contrast. displaying how yellow feels different in various colour combinations


It is commonly held, that due to simultaneous contrast, colour temperature can never be exactly determined. As in- there are no warmest and coolest colours. Each must be felt in terms of their relative hue and saturation to their surroundings.

However, I question if anyone in the art world has bothered to google colour temperature:

"The temperature at which a black body would emit radiation of the same colour as a given object"

The mentality of feeling warms and cools only exists within art. A google search on 'colour temperature' reveals a definition. The temperature of a black body radiator.

The Kelvin Color Temperature scale imagines a black body object—- (such as a lamp filament) being heated. At some point the object will get hot enough to begin to glow. As it gets hotter its glowing color will shift, moving from deep reds, such as a low burning fire would give, to oranges & yellows, all the way up to white hot.
— Iowel EDU

Using a Kelvin colour temperature scale, one can determine colour temperature. Therefore, this begs the question.

"Doesn't a Kelvin Colour temperature scale represent the warmest and coolest colours?"

Food for thought.

"The temperature of a Pāhoehoe lava flow can be estimated by observing its color. The result agrees well with measured temperatures of lava flows at about 1,000 to 1,200 °C (1,830 to 2,190 °F)." [Source]