Lesson #2: Mixing Colors

Part of the unit: Discoveries in Paint |


How can we mix paint to create many different colors?
Students will be able to:
Mix primary colors with black and white to create a variety of colors
Create a composition using lines and shapes
Students will understand that:
Artists experiment with media.
Red, yellow, blue, black and white tempera paint, 12"x18" drawing paper, sponge, palette, can for water, 1" and ½" flat brushes.
Paintings by Franz Kline (Mahoning 1956; Cardinal 1950) and Hans Hofmann (Rising Moon 1964; The Gate 1959)
Display the Kline and Hofmann paintings.
  • How are they similiar?
  • How are they different?
  • What colors do you see in the Hofmann painting?
Point to a shape in a Hofmann painting and ask:
  • How is this different from a line?
  • How can we use a line to make a shape?
Explain that artists use both lines and shapes to make a composition. Students will make a painting using lines and shapes. 
Explain that artists mix the primary colors - red, blue, and yellow - to get a  wide variety of colors such as green, orange, and violet.  Elicit the definition of primary and place it on the word wall. Put red paint on chart paper and mix yellow into it.
  • What color do we get when we mix red and yellow?
Add more yellow to the paint and ask students to describe what they see.  Add black and then white, asking student to describe how the color changed each time.
  • What color will we get by mixing yellow and blue?  Red and blue?
The teacher will demonstrate color mixing to create green and violet. During the demonstration, be sure to explain how to use the palette to mix colors and to how to rinse the brush in water before dipping it into another color. Discuss how the size of the brush will affect the thickness of the line. Explain that they will be experimenting with color mixing by creating a non-objective composition just like Hofmann.   
Each group of four will have red, yellow, blue, black and white paints to share. They will also have a can for water, a palette (or shiny magazines to mix colors on), a sponge, and several paint brushes. Distribute 12"x18" drawing paper.  Instruct students to:
  • experiment mixing colors to create lines and shapes
  • fill the page to the edges
  • leave white spaces if they want to
  • use black and white paint to lighten and darken some of the colors.
Display the wet paintings. Ask students to identify:
  • primary colors
  • colors made by mixing primary colors
  • colors made by adding white paint; black paint
Then ask students:
  • Why is it good to mix your own colors?
  • What happens when we mix too many colors together?
  • Why is everyone's painting different?
In preparation for lesson #3, the classroom teacher should take the class on a neighborhood walk and note:
  • colors
  • buildings
  • vehicles
  • signs
  • people
The teacher should take digital photos of the neighborhood walk. Prints should be made for the art teacher.