The other evening Charles Cecil came to our open studio and, as usual, had a few things to say. One of the more interesting was a discussion on the use of temperature terminology when critiquing painting.
According to Charles, critiquing painting using the terms ‘warm’ and ‘cool’ was never done in R. H. Ives Gammell’s studio (where he studied) and is less accurate than describing the actual hue, i.e. too blue, too yellow, etc.
I find that using temperature to describe hue is much easier but not necessarily better. As a teacher, you get an immediate visceral reaction if something is too warm or too cool and it takes a second longer to figure out what the exact hue is. On the other hand, it is, at the end, much more helpful to the student both in the moment, and also in the long term to think in terms of hues and not temperature.
Charles’ exact words on the subject can’t be repeated on a family blog such as this, but I think he has a good point. At any rate, I’m now trying to get back into the habit of correcting student’s work by using hue and not temperature.
Edit: It was just pointed out to me that a quick search of Google books turns up a number of pre-1900 writings on art (notably Eastlake) which mention warm and cool, I still think it is less precise.