Saturday, December 18, 2010

Creative Color Wheel

- tempera paint (red, yellow, blue)
- paintbrushes
- white drawing paper
- pencils
- scissors
- glue or glue sticks
- black mounting paper

I like to do a color theory lesson at least once a year with each grade. I think these just turned out absolutely beautiful!

The diameter of these circles were about 16". I drew a circle on a piece of tagboard prior to the lesson, and divided it into 12 sections evenly. I ended up with 12 pie slices that were used as tracers for my students.

For their preliminary draft, I asked the students to trace a pie slice three separate times on a piece of paper. They were then asked to change the shape, using the slice as a guide on how large to make their design. Each pie slice had to have a design that would allow them to incorporate two colors (one for the color wheel color, and one for the complementary color). Together we chose the best design of their three.

With the chosen design, they now had to trace their own slice 12 times, so that they had enough to complete a color wheel.

To begin painting, I found it easier to ask the students to pick one set of complementary colors at a time. For example, blue and orange. In one pie slice, they paint the blue as the main color and orange as the accent. They then paint the orange in another pie slice as the main color and blue as an accent. After, they just worked their way around the color wheel. This helped keep them in order and not jump around.

I have individual color wheels that the each student was able to use as a reference also- this helped them keep at their own pace and remember which color to do next. 

The students were only allowed to use red, yellow and blue paint also, being in charge of their own color mixing.

When all their pie slices were painted and dry, the students cut out their individual slices. I helped them arrange the pieces on a piece of 18" x 18" black construction paper so that they made a complete and evenly spaced circle. The last step was for them to glue down their pieces!


  1. Simply Wonderful. I am going to take this idea and keep it simple. My 6th grade will attempt it this week. I will post the results. Thank you for sharing.

  2. What a great way to explore radial symmetry as well as color theory! Great idea! Definitely a project worth "appropriating".

  3. interesting! do you hold training sessions for teachers and children?
    How about Africa.

  4. These are absolutely stunning! I love the variety, totally original and beautiful to look at.

    I teach 5th, 6th and 7th grade at an all girls school. This assignment is a keeper!

  5. Hi there... You've been walloped by the wand of the Art Fairy!(again) I loved this tutorial so much that it made the Weekly Top Twenty at the Art Fairy. Stop by an pick up a button if you get a chance.

  6. These look great. I am currently doing colour with my Yr 5 and our next lesson is on using complimentary colours. Will definitely have to do this activity.

  7. these look great the super s one give me a great to how i could finish off my colour wheel project for school

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  11. Hi,
    I wanted to ask if anyone knew how the students traced their designs 12 times? Do they use carbon paper to transfer it?

    1. Hi, Lyndsay! I had the students make one "master tracer" on cardstock and they used that to trace 12 designs... they just had to fill in the inside details to match the best they could.

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