Colors are all around us, all the time. Color is so important that, in the Hindu religion, there is a whole festival dedicated to it! But have you ever thought about where color comes from or why it matters so much to us? Did you know that colors can shape our moods, affect our sense of taste, and even help keep us safe? Today you’ll learn more about color, how it’s used, and how you can create your own watercolors using materials at home.
what you’ll need
- A computer, tablet, or mobile phone and access to the internet
- Warm water
- Bowls or containers
- A spoon
- Colorful spices or berries
- A paintbrush or Q-tip
- Optional: Milk, food coloring, and dish soap
Ask About Today
What did you learn about color today? What colorful places do you want to go visit some day?
If each of us had to pick a color to represent the way we are feeling today, what would that be and why?
Skip the Ads
Unfortunately, online videos often start with short advertisements. Remind your campers to click the "Skip" button as soon as they can to move ahead to the video.
Before you try making your own watercolor paints with everyday materials at your house, let's spend some time learning about the colors around us and why they’re important. Color is an element of art that can grab our attention, make us feel certain emotions, and create a unique visual experience. Grab the color wheel and let's go for a tour.
The Element of Color
Start with a quick overview of the color wheel and see how different colors relate to each other.
Remember: Online videos often start with advertisements. (Annoying, we agree!) Click the "Skip" button as soon as you can to move ahead to the video.
Check out a few photos of the most colorful places on earth. Have you been to any of them? You might spot your own hometown!
A Celebration of Color
Learn about Holi, a Hindu Festival of Colors where everyone gets colorful.
World's Most Colorful Structure?
Take a virtual tour of one of the most colorful structures on earth, Nasir Al Mulk Mosque in Iran. Don't forget to look up at the ceilings—they're totally worth it!
What's in a Logo Color?
Companies use logos to shape how we think about them—and color is a big part of that. Watch this video to learn about the 10 most popular logo colors and the color theory behind them.
Did you know you can make watercolors at home? All you need is water, containers, a spoon, and colorful spices or fruit!
Intro to Spice Painting
Check out this video by the Art of Education University to see how they test some spice watercolors and then allow them to blend together when they paint their leaf!
Make Your Own Watercolors
Start by finding some colorful spices around your home. Some ideas are tumeric, beetroot powder, and paprika. Cocoa powder, coffee grounds, and tea bags can also work. No spices? Raspberries, blueberries, or strawberries are great, too—just mash a few up and use the juice.
Add some of the spice to a tablespoon of warm water in a small bowl or container, then mix it to see how the colors look. The more spice or juice, the darker the color.
Now you're ready to do some painting! Grab a sheet of paper and a paintbrush or q-tip and try out your colors. Practice mixing colors together or layering colors to make certain sections darker.
Be kind: This one can get a little messy. Do it in the kitchen or outside, and clean up after yourself!
Many artists over the years have experimented with color in unique and interesting ways. Read the articles below to learn about Patrick Heron, Yayoi Kusama, Henri Matisse and Lily van der Stokker. Notice how they use colors differently. Which artist do you like the best and why?
Fun fact: Patrick Heron got his artistic start designing scarves for his father's company when he was 14 years old.
Or as her friends like to call her, "The Princess of Polka Dots."
Bright colors and simple shapes make for a powerful combination.
Lily van der Stokker
Challenging the idea that art always has to be serious.
For younger explorers
A Color of His Own
The sad chameleon has a problem: Unlike the other animals, he has no color of his own.
For younger explorers
A Bad Case of Stripes
What if YOU woke up looking like a rainbow?
Now let’s get moving and create your own color wheel!
Find Color Wheel Objects
Remember the color wheel? The video in the Explore section teaches you about it if you need a refresher. Race a partner or time yourself to see how quickly you can make a color wheel of your own with objects around your home.
Be kind: Don't take stuff that's important to your siblings, and give your parents a break by cleaning up after you're done.
Color Wheel Challenges
After you've got your color wheel together, see how quickly you can do the following challenges. Need a reminder about the color terms? Check out the video in Explore or the article linked here.
> Pick out one object for each primary color
> Pick out one object for each secondary color
> Pick out 10 "warm" colored objects
> Pick out two sets of complementary colors
> Pick out 5 "analogous" colors
> Find 8 monochromatic objects (all the same color)
Art doesn't just hang on a wall, you know.
Do the Color Wheel Dance
Remember when you learned that colors can spark certain emotions? Try to create a dance the shows the emotion you feel when you see each of the different colors on the color wheel. Think about how the way you move your body also shows emotion. For example, a color that makes you feel calm might have slower, smoother movements where as a color that makes you feel excited might have faster, sharper movements.
more to explore
The Science of Color
Who discovered primary colors in the first place? Find out in this article from the Smithsonian Libraries.
What Color Are you?
What color are you? Take this quiz to find out!
Try this cool color experiment using milk, food coloring and dish soap.
For younger explorers
How Do You Hide a Big Red Dog?
We love the colors in Clifford the Big Red Dog! See if you can help him in a fun game of hide-and-seek.