Colour mixing is an exploratory experience, finding out what happened when you add one colour to another, either primary colours mixed to make secondary colours, or pigment added to white to make graduate scales of colour. Once children have had these exploratory experiences, however, they need to use them in context of creating pictures to a purpose, whether real life or imaginary.
Colour ranges can be explored further using the idea of skies, clouds, the sea, woodlands in different seasons (collect a range of leaves and recreate the colours by mixing, before use). Try creating a colour range for anger, or sadness…
Actually, the idea of trying is an important one. If you, as a teacher, have not had a go and discovered for yourself, how can you lead children appropriately?
Art is too often seen as a messy subject, therefore to be avoided. There are simple techniques that can be used to make life easier for everyone.
- I found that using large trays as colour palettes contains the paint better than smaller ones, especially if the brushes fit inside too, so that they can be easily carried without spillage.
- Only putting out the colour range to be developed and an appropriate amount, stops paint waste. Children get better at determining that as they get older and more experienced.
- Mixing ones from light colours, I found, also wastes less paint. Adding white to a dark colour requires a great deal of paint to do so, so much is thrown away.
- I also found that, once basic skills and approaches were established, from Infants to Juniors, using the term “create a picture that shows…” enabled the children to explore a range of media within one piece of work.
- Sand, sawdust, earth, small gravel, among other materials, were added to paint to create textures.
- Real objects, such as leaves and grass were appropriately incorporated.
- The act of creating enabled evaluative discussions afterwards, ensuring improve approaches in subsequent efforts.
- Claywork was supported by using large sheets of grey sugar paper as a work surface. This allowed wedging and working, but then could be folded inwards to contain any renegade bits of clay that might otherwise fall to the floor.
- All off-site trip records were based on bringing back sketches as aides-memoire, to be further developed back in school.
I say this as someone who started teaching life as a scientist…