Lesson #4: Mixing Secondary Colors

Part of the unit: Painting a Neighborhood Scene |


What is the advantage of mixing our own secondary colors?
Students will be able to:
Mix secondary colors
Mix tints and shades of secondary colors
Use a wide variety of colors in painting
Students will understand that:
Artists mix a variety of colors to create visual interest.

Red, yellow, blue, black and white tempera paint;

Brushes, water cans, sponges, student drawings from lesson 2


Ralph Fasanella's Happy and Bud Service Station


Display Fasanella's Happy and Bud Service Station.  Remind students that they already looked at how the artist used tints and shades in this painting.

  • Let's assume that the artist only had enough money to purchase three colors of paint and white and black.  Which three colors should he buy?  Why?
  • What colors can you find in this painting that are not primary colors?
  • How can these colors be mixed?

Explain that these colors - green, violet, and orange - are called secondary colors and can be made by mixing two primary colors.


The teacher will use the primary colors to demonstrate how to mix each of the secondary colors:  red + yellow = orange; red + blue = violet; yellow + blue = green.  After the demonstration, it should be explained that the secondary colors may vary according to the proportion of each primary color.

The teacher should tell the students that they will be answering this question at the end of the lesson:

  • What is the advantage of mixing your own secondary colors?

Distribute student drawings from lesson 2, red, yellow, blue, black and white tempera paint, brushes, water cans.  Instruct students to paint in the major areas first and to leave the details for last.  Emphasize that they will be mixing their colors and should use a wide variety of tints and shades to create visual interest and contrast between lights and darks. 

Select one table of students to post their work in front of the room.  Ask the class to identify the secondary colors used.

  • Why do the greens (or violets or oranges) look different in each painting?
  • Should everyone's greens look alike?  Why or why not?
  • Which painting shows the most contrast between colors?  How was that achieved?
  • What is the advantage of mixing your own secondary colors?

Interview an older person from your neighborhood who remembers the block you are painting from when they were a child.  Write a composition explaining how this block was different when this person was growing up.