How to Teach a Child About Mixing Colors

Teaching a child to mix colors is easy. Use vegetable colors or pre-made watercolors. Watercolors are permanent pigments; vegetable colors turn brown quickly and are called fugitive. Easter egg colors in this country are permanent.


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    1st grade, Lahaina, Maui, Kam lll School, Christmas Vacation Camp in 2000
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    First we painted a triad triangle of the primary and secondary colors.
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    We filled three glasses of water and colored them yellow, cyan and magenta, the transparent primary colors. We used food coloring from Easter, it included the primaries and secondaries. Red, blue and green are the secondary colors, we could have made them like the third grade class did.
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    Mix the three primary colors in equal parts in a separate cup to make a dark black color.
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    Mix and make the secondary colors red, blue and green from the primary colors.
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    Mix the red and green secondary colors to make a brown color.
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    Making nature's shadow colors by mixing a primary color with the opposite secondary color, this makes the darker shade of either color. This works with any set of opposition colors. That's the way nature does it in shadows.


  • The watercolor primary pigments are called: Transparent Indian Yellow PY150, Transparent Tartrazine Yellow PY100, Transparent Magenta PR122 and Transparent Cyan PB15. The letters and numbers are part of the world wide official ASTM Name and Color Number list. They are part of the red, yellow and blue old color theory.
  • This is what glasses of colored water looked like from teaching a 3rd grade class[1] using water colors.
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  • Mixing these three colors together in different combinations will make any color. That's two brown's on the top left and two black's on the top right.
  • These colors are the same pigments used by professional printer/plotters to print giclees.
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  • Vegetable transparent magenta = beet juice
  • Herb transparent yellow = turmeric. In its mass tone it is yellow ocher in color, and as a tint it is bright yellow. The same gradation is in the Real Color Wheel and yellow crystals, and in bananas as they get older.
  • Transparent cyan does not exist in the plant world today as a dye. Cyan is the color of the sky. Iron, copper or manganese will make cyan. The copper pigment is called pathalocyanne. The iron transparent pigment is ferric oxide, iron and the gas cyanogen make ferrocyanide, a salt of ammonium ferrocyanide that makes Prussian blue, popular in the 1960s. It makes a dirty cyan.
  • Magnesium euxanthate will make transparent yellow and manganese will make transparent cyan. Manganese blue (Barium Manganate) is the same transparent color that can be made from Phthalocyanine (chlorinated copper).

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Categories: Paint Recipes and Mixes