Mix Monochromatic Colors!

What You Need:

  • White watercolor paper cut into a square
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • Primary color 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 tint and shade, and define the word monochromatic.
    • A tint is when white is added to a color.
    • A shade is when black is added to a color.
    • Monochromatic refers to all the hues (tints and shades) of one color.
  2. Have your child use a pencil and ruler to grid the white paper into at least 20 squares.
  3. Have them decide on a secondary color to work with (green, orange, or purple), and choose the correct primary colors to make their secondary color. Here is where your learner can start experimenting!
    • blue + yellow = green
    • yellow + red = orange
    • blue + red = purple
  4. Have your child squeeze out their chosen primary colors onto a mixing palette, and also squeeze out black and white paint in separate areas on the same palette.
  5. Encourage your artist to mix small amounts of paint together to alter the tint and hue of the color. They can also alter the amounts of the colors being mixed together. For example, if they're using green, use a lot of yellow and a tiny bit of blue for light, grassy green, or use more blue and less yellow 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 hues of your color, tinting it to lighter values.
  7. Add in black to different hues of your color, shading it to darker values.
  8. Have your child paint each square on their grid 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 (such as cups, pottery, etc.), and create a painting using only colors found on the color chart.

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