Let’s Get Started


When students are working on a painting, they are not only learning about perception and representation through imagery, but they are also learning about colours, textures, and shapes. Often the focus of the lesson is more on the technical skills of drawing, or image representation, and less on the use of colours and how they work together.


Students will be engaged in a conversation with the teacher as to what monochromatic means, all the same colour base, just different variations. Having examples in the class will make this task easier for students to understand. Also, discussing with students how different variations are made by adding black or white to the base colour will be helpful at this point.


Note: The example image of David Brown Milne’s Saranac Hills, Evening  will be on display for the class to refer to if during this activity.

  1. During this activity students will be advised that they can paint a picture of anything they want. This will allow the focus to be less on
  2. imagery, and more on playing with colour. The class can have a brainstorming session of different things they can paint as some students actually shy away when they are given open topics. Some ideas that can be tossed around are landscapes, buildings, people, abstract shapes, animals, etc. The ideas are limitless.
  3. Once students have discussed what they want to paint, hand out their paper. If students want to do a preliminary sketch then they can at this point. If they want to just begin painting, they can take this opportunity to get their paint and brushes.
  4. Students will be told that they can select one colour, primary or secondary. They will then receive this colour along with black and white. Be sure to not give out too much black as it will over power the other colours very easily.
  5. Take a moment to advise the students to begin mixing colours on their paint palette to see how many variations of the one colour they can get as an experiment before they begin their painting. This can be a fun discovery time for the students to see what they can create.
  6. Once students have a good selection of colour, they may begin painting their image.
  7. Because of the freedom in image selection, some students may finish this activity before others, and in this case, encourage them to create another painting, possibly with different imagery, using a different primary or secondary colour. Have students repeat step 4 if they create a second painting as it is good practice  with colour mixing.
  8. After all students have completed their painting set them aside to dry.
  9. Once all paintings are dry, the class can take to opportunity to look at the rainbow of colours they have created. This is also a time where the class can discuss the difference between cold and warm colours and how they affect an image.

Tips and Tricks

Having palettes ready with black and white on them will help save time for this activity.

Recycled  Styrofoam trays make great inexpensive paint trays.