With Valentines Day (and the ‘100th Day of School’) just around the corner, I thought I’d post this heart-themed version of my ‘Mixing 100 Colors’ lesson! Mixing the colors and then painting hearts requires a little longer attention span, so I’ve found that 4th grade and up does best with this version. But younger students can also do this if they just work a little larger and paint fewer hearts.
Teaching kids that they can mix whatever color they want is both empowering and magical! Until they learn the skill of color mixing, most kids (and adults!) will be content to paint with whatever colors are given to them. That’s why (when using liquid tempera paint) I usually offer a limited palette of the primary colors, and sometimes black and white. Not only do students gain a better understanding of color this way, but the results are always more varied and a lot more interesting!
The challenge of mixing 100 different colors encourages students to notice how colors interact with each other and to experience the infinite variations they can achieve. If you also challenge your students to complete this project in one class period it helps them learn to work quickly…. avoiding over-mixing and giving their finished projects a more ‘painterly’ feel.
- Paper plate
- Liquid tempera paint: red, yellow, turquoise, black, and white
- Paint brush (#10 or #12 round watercolor brush)
- 8.5″ x 11” card stock printed with a grid of 100 small gray dots (you can download my free pdf here)
3 Basic Rules:
1. Colors must be mixed…. no using them straight from the bottle!
2. Leave a little white space around each heart.
3. No water allowed! You can wipe your brush on the newspaper if you want to clean it, but no washing it! (The small amount of paint left on the brush from one color to the next is the ‘secret’ to achieving an infinite variety of colors!)
The grid I made for this lesson is different from the one I use for my ‘Mixing 100 Colors’ lesson. Both of these templates consist of a grid made with light gray shapes. For painting squares, a grid with squares is perfect, but for painting hearts, I made a grid with small gray dots (download my free pdf here) instead. This way, when you paint a heart shape on top of a dot, you won’t have corners showing underneath it like you would if you painted a heart on top of a square!
To paint a heart, simply make a ‘V’ shape with two diagonal strokes. You can start at the top or the bottom… or make some one way and then alternate for others. But as much as possible, try to use just two strokes!
It helps to practice painting a few hearts on scrap paper first, so you can work out your technique before starting on the template. Keep turning your paper as needed so your hand stays relaxed, and step back from your paper occasionally to see what colors you may need more or less of. Wipe your brush on the newspaper when you want to clean it… remember, no water!
Asking students to choose their favorite heart shape and favorite heart color after painting 100 of these helps them to closely examine and reflect on their work. These heart paintings make unique Valentines, whether in a frame or on the fridge…. and they’re a great reminder of the wide variety of colors that can be made with only a limited palette!