Easy Art Class – The Color Wheel

Minimum Requirements for this Easy Art Lesson:

One of the most fundamental lessons to teach your children in art is color. This is an easy art class because you can teach it in about 30 minutes and only need paper towels, pencil, straight edge, heavy paper, paint brushes, water, and three paint colors- Red, Blue, and Yellow. For best results use acrylic paints. You will teach your child to make all colors: Secondary and Tertiary with the Primary Colors.

Talking about Color with your Children

We encourage rabbit trails and using one subject to spark interest in others. Art is absolutely perfect for doing that!  Here are just a few ideas of where an art conversation might lead you.

  • Start the lesson with a discussion about how color is a way for us to describe an object. It is an adjective. (If you are struggling to find a grammar curriculum you love, we have loved this one!)
  • You might then discuss the history of color… how colors were made in ancient times. This book is so interesting and could spark an interest in so many different topics! Here are a couple of the topics it covers: Why did Roman emperors wear purple? Which color is made from crushed beetles? What green pigment might be used to build super-fast computers of the future? See, doesn’t it sound interesting?!!
  • Color is actually based on the way that it reflects or emits light (now might be a perfect time to bring out a prism and show the color spectrum before you even start).
  • Your eye is capable of seeing different colors because of a part of your eye called the retina. It is sensitive to different wavelengths of light. This conversation could quickly lead to a discussion about human anatomy! Our favorite curriculum for Human Anatomy is written by Jeannie Fulbright (you can find it here).

Vocabulary for this Easy Art Lesson

  • Primary Colors– any of a group of colors from which all other colors can be obtained by mixing (red, yellow, and blue).
  • Secondary Colors a color, as orange, green, or violet, produced by mixing two primary colors.
  • Tertiary Colors -1 : a color, as blue-violet, produced by an equal mixture of a primary color with a secondary color adjacent to it on the color wheel. or 2 : a color, as brown, produced by mixing two secondary colors.
  • Complementary colors– are colors opposite each other on the color wheel. When mixing colors, use the complementary color to darken. For instance, if you want a deeper, darker red, don’t add black, add green, the complementary color!
  • Warm Colors– These colors really stand out, they are red, orange, and yellow.
  • Cool Colors– These colors blend well and tend to calm down the tone of the work; they are blue, purple, and green.

Instruction for Teaching an Easy Art Lesson

In this easy art lesson, the goal is to mix tertiary colors as in definition 1. Provide your child with water only used to clean their brush between mixing (not to dilute paint) and a paper towel to blot or wipe dry the brush before reloading. It important for you to let your child experiment freely. The more results they get the more they will learn how to achieve the desired mix. If you prefer, allow your child scratch paper to first practice mixing. Then once mastered, they can create their wheel.

Easy steps to an easy art lesson…

  1. Assist your child in making an equilateral triangle (or close to it). Discuss that there are 3 primary colors- red, yellow and blue and that all colors can be made from those three colors. Starting with red and going clockwise, have your child make a dot of each color at each triangle point. Continue with yellow next and then blue.
  2. Next draw another equilteral triangle pointing the opposite direction. Have your child mix read and yellow to make orange and add to the orange to the triangle point between red and yellow. If your child has trouble achieving the desired color, add more red to darken and more yellow to lighten to achieve the desired hue. Continue in the same manner to create green with yellow and blue and purple with blue and red.
  3. To create tertiary colors combine the two closest secondary colors on the wheel. For example, make Blue-Green by mixing green blue. When naming tertiary colors, it is most proper to name the primary color fist and then the secondary color.

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  1. This is awesome, thank you so much for sharing!! I will definitely be using this for my three kids! It is such a fun way to teach them about colors.

  2. I had to relearn the color wheel when I was in hair school, and I was amazed at how much I didn’t know about it! Complimentary colors, opposite colors, etc., there was so much I did not know! And it’s a color wheel! Children make them in kindergarten! But once I did learn as much as possible about it, it made doing color on hair SO much better! Colors came out way better once I learned about all the colors and which ones go with each other and which ones cancel out others. Who knew a color wheel could hold so much knowledge? Thanks for this great article!

  3. I wish the hairdresser that accidentally made my hair green had studied the color wheel! This is so easy to do! Thank you

  4. I will pass this on to my friends that teach special education at my school. This would be fun for them

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