Art of the Color Wheel

Color Wheel (9)

A gray day seemed like the perfect chance to bring color inside. To combat all the dark rain clouds, Travis and I explored different ways we could make a color wheel. This project was part lesson, part craft – and all fun!

First, we did a quick review: I showed him paintings that use yellow, red, and blue as the dominant colors, including Piet Mondrian’s Broadway Boogie Woogie and Mark Rothko’s Untitled (Yellow, Red, and Blue).

Color Wheel (1)

Take the time to ask your child what he or she thinks the pictures are about, or how they make him or her feel. He told me Rothko’s made him “happy happy sad.” When I asked him to explain, he said the red and yellow were happy, but the blue was sad. Then remind your child these are the three primary colors.

Color Wheel (2)

Now it was time to make color wheels! We started with the most basic version using crayons. I filled in yellow, red, and blue on a paper plate divided into 6 portions. His job was to figure out which secondary color went where.

Color Wheel (3)

The next version was a little messier. We made three blobs of paint in the primary colors, and he used a paintbrush to drag these together. Soon we had a color wheel!

Color Wheel (4)

I encouraged him to make a version with hand prints, but he didn’t want to get that messy. Using my hand and fingerpaint, I  showed him an example, pressing together yellow and blue prints. Your kids might want to have goopy fun with this and make a full handprint color wheel!

Color Wheel (6)

Finally, it was water mixing time! We filled three cups with water, and added our primary colors (now in the familiar red, yellow, and blue) with food coloring.

Color Wheel (7)

Use a pipette (which means you’re sneaking in fine motor skills, too!) to make a few drops of each color on a plate. Then mix and match to form the secondary colors.

Color Wheel (8)

Travis enjoyed this version the most, and soon was experimenting with making a big plate of brown.

Color Wheel (10)

All of this was prompted by a Raddish Kids lesson, so we also watched some of the recommended videos to further our exploration. There’s lots more you can do to go further in depth with older kids: check out fine art books at the library, or head to a gallery for a primary and secondary color scavenger hunt!