Color Wheel - Compassion International

color wheel

Color wheel - A color wheel is a visual representation of color theory. A color wheel shows the relationship between primary colors, secondary colors and tertiary colors. Tertiary colors are the colors formed by mixing a primary and secondary color.

A color wheel is useful for identifying harmonious colors for a particular context. The most common version of a color wheel contains 12 colors based on the red yellow blue (RYB) artistic color model: primary (red, yellow and blue), secondary (green, orange and purple) and tertiary (yellow-orange, red-orange, red-purple, blue-purple, blue-green and yellow-green).

Many variations of the traditional RYB color wheel concept exist. Another popular color wheel is the red green blue (RGB) or red green violet (RGV) wheel with the colors cyan, magenta, and yellow as secondary.

A wheel can also be a useful visual representation or analogy for poverty. The wheel's hub represents absolute poverty. The wheel's spokes represent the different needs of those living in poverty, and the rim of the wheel represents enough.

The "Poverty Color Wheel" plays off these two wheel analogies to illustrate that the presence of poverty doesn't mean dignity is absent.

Poverty Color Wheel

  |   Posted: April 09, 2015

Poverty is hopeless and depressing. But light shines in the darkness. And color brightens it. Vividly!

The color wheel is a visual representation of color theory, first proposed by Sir Isaac Newton in the 18th century. More a color chart or color scale than anything else, a color wheel shows the relationship colors have to one another.

The most common version of a color wheel is based on the red yellow blue (RYB) color model. In this model, the primary colors of red, yellow and blue are placed opposite their complementary secondary colors (green, orange and purple) and next to their tertiary color variations (yellow-orange, red-orange, red-purple, blue-purple, blue-green and yellow-green).


If we take the color wheel premise, along with a few conceptual liberties, and apply it to the context of poverty our newly created "poverty color wheel" vividly illustrates that the presence of poverty doesn't mean dignity is absent.


Red symbolizes life. It asserts itself with boldness and daring and expresses itself with pioneering spirit. Red represents the strength and determination of a child fighting the lies of poverty.

A young Asian boy in a red shirt stands outside of his home.


Yellow is the color of sunshine. It’s associated with joy, happiness, intellect and energy. It’s an optimistic color, one that communicates a brighter future for children in poverty.

An African teenager in a yellow shirt sits at a school desk.


Blue symbolizes trust, loyalty, wisdom, confidence, intelligence, faith, truth and heaven. It is the color of the sky. And it is the color of Compassion. It represents the unlimited potential of the children we serve.

An African girl in a purple and yellow outfit and wearing a blue knit hat is stands in a doorway.


Green is the color of nature. It represents balance and symbolizes self-respect, growth and harmony. It also symbolizes freshness, like a fresh opportunity, a chance to succeed and break the cycle of poverty.

A Brazilian girl stands in front of a bright green wall. She is wearing a red shirt and is smiling.


Orange is a bold invigorating color suggesting strength, endurance and success. It represents enthusiasm, encouragement and determination. It is the banner of success carried by children released from poverty in Jesus’ name.

A smiling Filipino girl in a an orange shirt


Purple is associated with royalty. It symbolizes wisdom, nobility and ambition. It communicates wealth and extravagance. But it’s also the color of dignity – something you’re helping give to children in poverty.

 A young Salvadoran boy is smiling and standing in front of a purple wall.


Pink is associated with purity, love and compassion. It communicates gentleness and freshness. Pink represents good health and life, which you offer to children in poverty.

A young Bolivian girl with a sweet smile is wearing a white shirt and has yellow and orange bead necklaces and is standing in front of a pink wall.


White symbolizes goodness, innocence and purity. It’s the color of perfection and safety. It’s the color of light — the Light of the World we share through our ministry.

A young Kenyan girl, smiling and wearing a white head scarf and white shirt, looks between two other children standing outside.

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