I'm progressive when teaching art: there is no "right way" to do things and messes are encouraged. Color, however, is complex and has rules. Of course, these rules can and should be broken by the artist, but a strong foundation on the subject is what gives the artist freedom to express herself fully.
Color complex? Of course! Ever tried to name all 120 crayons in the biggest box?
Since I can't pack a whole class on color on one page, here is a starting place for discussing colors with kids of any age-and a few things to try:
Red, blue, and yellow are the building blocks of color. Every color can be created from these three primary colors. Purple, green, and orange are secondary colors created with equal parts of two primary colors. Red + Yellow = Orange; Yellow + Blue = Green; Red + Blue = Purple. And by adding more of any color and less of any other, any color can be achieved!
A color wheel is a good map for understanding blending and color relationships. Start with a big circle on a page, and think of a pie with 6 pieces. Color in red, blue, and yellow in wedges with blank wedges in between. Have a helper figure out what color belongs between each primary color. The color wheel is a good way to see complimentary and contrasting relationships: a wedge's opposite is its contrast, and the wedges next to it, on both sides, are its compliments!
Discuss color with your kids. Driving is a goldmine! When your toddler says, "Look, bus!" Respond, "Yes, look at that yellow bus!" Kindergartners enjoy listing yellow things, and big kids can describe the landscape outside the window. With older kids, discuss why red, orange, yellow are considered warm and why blue, green, purple are considered cool, touch on color conveying mood.
Remember to have fun!
Blending Colors With Kids
Here are some simple ways to introduce kids to the concept of blending color:
- lending small balls of primary colored playdough.
- Finger painting: A wonderful way to discover brown!
- Blend primary watercolor paints on a page.
- Using tempera, put primary color drops on each side of the center of a white sheet of paper. Fold the paper and squish to blend.
- Mix water with food colors in red, blue, and yellow in clear cups. In three empty clear cups, use a dropper to blend colors.
- Get magazines and scissors and cut out every color possible. Paste like colors together or refer to the color wheel to create a rainbow effect.
- Have a surplus of broken crayons? Make big crayons! Peel crayons, separate by color (or experiment with blending) into an old muffin tin, and bake at 250 for 20 minutes. Cool completely then pop them out.
- Have a household color hunt to collect solid colored objects. With a rainbow of construction paper, observe how the objects look on different backgrounds.Which colors compliment the object? Which colors contrast with it? Which colors are the same tone?