Color Wheel Painting - Tempera (Level 1)

Goals and Objectives

  1. To show an understanding of color theory through mixing of color and values
  2. To show a sensitivity using a brush and other tools to create different textures and edges
  3. To explore personal identity and how that can be represented in a visual product

Step by Step

  1. Hand out color wheel worksheet copied on card stock
  2. Demo and explain primary, secondary, tertiary colors, value scale, analogous colors, mixing for all neutrals
  3. Students have painting time (usually need a little over one class period for this)
  4. Students fill out "Who Are You?" handout (contains questions inquiring about their interests and history)
  5. Demo and explain thumbnails for project - must include interesting composition and some aspect of the self in the final product; minimum of six thumbnails
  6. Explain that in addition to personal aspect, each project must have a 12 part color "wheel", a 7 step black to white value scale, two 7 step complementary color value scales
  7. After approval of thumbnail, students draw out "small rough draft" (an 8x10 version of their "final" idea - this had ~75% of final detail)
  8. After approval of small rough draft, students move on to "large rough draft" (a 16x20 version of their final idea - on newsprint; this has ~90% of final detail)
  9. Students trace large rough draft onto final 16x20" drawing paper
  10. Students begin painting (back to front; large to small)
  11. Demo different textures for blending soft edges; clouds, sand, concrete, etc. with sponges and toothbrushes
  12. Demo wood texture with sharpie on finished/dry tempera paint


  • card stock (to print color wheel handout on)
  • pencil/eraser
  • printer paper for thumbnails and small rough draft
  • newsprint (18x24 cut to 16x20 - if desired)
  • drawing paper
  • brushes, palettes, water containers, paper towels
  • tempera paint
  • toothbrushes & sponges
  • sharpies


If you would like digital copies of the color worksheet, thumbnail page, small rough draft, or digital presentation of student examples, please email with your request.

This project typically follows the Pen & Ink project for Level 1 students and if they use the same principles of shapes for highlights, shadows, etc., their products tend to be much stronger.

Some select supplies can be found with the below links

With the above links, I would suggest the 32 oz. bottles of tempera, but the slant palette is my favorite option for Level 1 students as it is plenty big enough for mixing while also allowing for plenty of mixing space. If you have any further questions about my experience, please email