Color Theory Made Easy

What You Need:

  • Watercolor paper, 11” x 17”
  • Pencil
  • Oil pastels or colored pencils

What You Do:

  1. Look at a color wheel on the Internet with your child and have him point out the warm and cool colors. Warm colors include red, orange, and yellow. Cool colors include green, blue, and purple. Then, show him how complementary colors exist opposite one another on the color wheel. Together, you can come up with ways of remembering the complementary pairs. One way to remember them is: red and green are Christmas colors, violet and yellow are colors found on a wizard's hat, and orange and blue are often used by sports teams on their uniforms.
  2. Help your child with creating a concentric pattern on the white paper. You can freehand this by repeating circles, stars, hearts or whatever pattern you prefer; drawing the same shape around itself progressively larger. An alternative is to use a computer program such as iWeb or PhotoShop and print out a concentric pattern on paper. (Thin paper may need to be mounted on thicker paper to display)
  3. Have your child outline his hand and arm on top of the concentric circles. At least one finger should make it into the center shape. Everything within the arm shape will be the foreground of the picture.
  4. Using a pencil, have him lightly mark the cool colors for the background. Ex: “b” for blue, “g” for green and “v” for violet. After they are marked and you check to make sure they are correct, he can color them in. Encourage him to color solid areas for a more vibrant picture.
  5. Now he can begin the foreground with warm colors: Red, Orange and Yellow. He should match them up to their complements and fill them in. Be aware that little shapes such as fingertips may overlap two different colors.

This is a great project to keep "handy" for a reference when your child is ready to move on to more challenging coloring or painting projects. A color's complement can always be used in place of the color black to create shadows.

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