Painting Great Greens!

Green is a color that stu­dents often take for granted.  When paint­ing greens, many will default to just using the green in their paint set.  This results in paint­ings that lack depth and inter­est.  With some basic color mix­ing instruc­tion, kids can paint a vari­ety of greens and greatly improve their paint­ings at the same time!  

Mate­ri­als:
  • 9x12 white con­struc­tion paper or water­color paper
  • Water­color set (I like the Prang OVL-8 set)
  • Water­color brush (#8 — #12 round is good)
  • Water and container

Direc­tions:

1. The first step is to help kids “see like artists” by rec­og­niz­ing the vast array of greens that are all around us in nature.  Bring in plant and leaf sam­ples, take a nature walk, exam­ine the work of famous plein aire painters like Claude Monet, or sim­ply look out the win­dow!  Point out the sub­tle and not-so-subtle vari­a­tions in the vari­ety of greens that most peo­ple (not just kids!) may oth­er­wise over­look.  The photo below is one exam­ple of the vari­ety of greens you’ll find in nature: 

Imag­ine if you used only the green in your paint set to paint this picture!
2. Use a color wheel to show how green (a sec­ondary color) is cre­ated by mix­ing yel­low and blue (pri­mary col­ors).  The color wheel will show how by vary­ing the ratio of yel­low to blue, you can change the green that results.  

3. Now, paint some greens!  Mix as many dif­fer­ent greens as you can by vary­ing the amounts of yel­low and blue as you mix them together.  Each time you mix a new vari­a­tion of green, paint a small swatch on your paper.  

4. Next, try adding yel­low and/or blue in vary­ing amounts to the green that’s already in your paint set, for an even greater vari­ety of greens.  

5. Then, take your greens a step fur­ther by mix­ing a green and adding a tiny amount of black to it.  Do the same with red, orange, pur­ple and brown.  (Just make sure that each new color still looks “green–ish”!)  The goal is to paint as many dif­fer­ent greens as pos­si­ble.  See who can paint the most greens!

6. Finally, use your new color mix­ing expe­ri­ence to paint a jun­gle (or other nature scene) using as many dif­fer­ent greens as you can.  Notice how much more lively your paint­ings look when you use a vari­ety of greens and not just the green in your paint set!

Even very young chil­dren can be taught to mix a range of greens that more accu­rately reflect the amaz­ing vari­ety of greens all around us.  Try this exer­cise with your stu­dents.… they (and you!) will never take greens for granted again!

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4 Responses to Painting Great Greens!

  1. Ms. 'Lavender' July 25, 2011 at 6:25 pm #

    It is very hard to limit your­self to one color. How­ever, art paired with my love of plants and ecosys­tems make this a very excit­ing pos­si­b­lity. I loved the color swatches! I also added you to my home­page for future inspi­ra­tion to the up com­ing school year. Thanks

  2. Cath July 27, 2011 at 5:23 am #

    What a sim­ple, great idea! Thanks!

  3. Arts and Crafts for Kids July 28, 2011 at 2:00 am #

    That’s a really gen­uine way of let­ting kids “see like an artist”! Very inspir­ing and easy to imple­ment to your own set of kids :-)

  4. Amy September 1, 2011 at 3:38 pm #

    I took this and brought it into a color mix­ing les­son. It was a lot of fun. Thank you for the great idea.

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