Mix Monochromatic Colors! Activity

2.8 based on 21 ratings
Updated on Sep 28, 2012

Teach your child an easy way to learn about secondary colors; created when two primary colors are mixed together. Mixing their own palette of colors and making each one a different tint or shade is like a puzzle. It's a fun challenge that will help them understand how many colors they can get from just a few tubes of paint.

What You Need:

  • White watercolor paper cut into a square
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • Primary tempera paint (Red, Yellow, Blue)
  • Black tempera paint
  • White tempera paint
  • Paint brushes
  • Water cup
  • Mixing palette
  • Rags

What You Do:

  1. Discuss with your child the difference between hue and tint. And define Monochromatic. A Tint is when white is added to a color. A Shade is when black is added to a color. Monochromatic is all the hues (Tints and Shades) of one color.
  2. Have him use a pencil and ruler to grid the white paper into at least 20 squares.
  3. He should decide on a secondary color to work with (green, orange or purple), and choose the correct primary colors to make his secondary color. He's where he can start experimenting!
    • blue+yellow=GREEN, yellow+red=ORANGE, blue+red=PURPLE
  4. Have him squeeze out his chosen primary colors into a mixing palette and also squeeze out black and white paint in separate areas on the same palette.
  5. Encourage him to mix small amounts of paint together to alter the tint and hue of the color. He can also alter the amounts of the colors being mixed together. For example, if he's using green, use a lot of yellow and a tiny bit of blue for light grassy green, or the reverse for a rich, dark green. The paintbrush will have to be rinsed out after each new color is mixed to avoid repeating colors.
  6. Add in white to different shades of your color, tinting it to lighter values.
  7. Add in black to different shades of your color, shading it to darker values.
  8. He can paint in each square with a different version of the color until the entire grid is filled in.
  9. Allow to dry.
  10. Hang on to this color chart and put in into a portfolio or sketch book as a handy reference.

Tip:  With any additional time or as another activity, use the painted grid as a reference to create a monochromatic still life. Simply set up a plant with a couple of household objects, (cups, pottery), and paint it only using colors found on the color chart.

Ellen Dean has worked as an art educator in Thailand since 2005, working with both children and adults. She has also been a professional artist working in painting, sculpture and photography since 1996.