2 - The color Wheel

25/08/2010 07:48

By - Randi Lynn Mrvos  - editted by N. Painchaud


  • Pick up the following things from your teacher or at your home.
  • white paper plates (about 9" in diameter),
  • spools of thread (1" in diameter),
  • black fine tip marker,
  • 12-set oil pastels (Junior Artist Set by Cray-Pas, about $2.00),
  • 9" x 12" white drawing paper. 



The color wheel is a chart of colors of the visible spectrum that is used to show how colors relate to each other. It is made up of three primary colors, three secondary colors, and six tertiary colors or intermediate colors. Primary colors (red, blue, and yellow) are colors that can not be mixed by any other colors. Secondary colors (purple, green, and orange) are formed by mixing two primary colors together. Tertiary colors (red-violet, blue-violet, blue-green, yellow-green, yellow-orange, and red-orange) are formed by combining a primary color with an adjacent secondary color. 


 Sir Isaac Newton's experiments with light helped him invent the first color wheel. In 1666, Newton passed a beam of sunlight through a prism, which produced red, blue, yellow, green, and cyan beams of the visible spectrum. He was able to show the natural sequence of color by joining the two ends of the color spectrum together. One hundred years later, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, (1749-1832) a German writer and scientist, studied how colors made us feel. He noted that blue evoked quiet moods and red evoked cheerfulness. He divided colors into two groups: minus side (green to violet to blue) and a plus side (red to orange to yellow). By the mid 1900's Johannes Itten, a German theorist who worked in an art and design school, developed the color wheel as we know it today. Like Goethe, Itten considered the emotional values of color. Blue is associated with coolness and red is associated with warmth. His color wheel is based on the primary colors and contains a total of twelve colors. 


Assignment 1

  1. Make a color wheel by tracing twelve small circles evenly spaced around the edge of a paper plate with a fine tip black marker, using a spool as a guide. 
  2. Use a red, blue, and yellow oil pastel to fill in the primary colors. Have them think of the color wheel as the face of a clock. Position 12 is red, position 4 is blue, and position 8 is yellow.
  3. Use a purple, green, and orange oil pastel to fill in the secondary colors. Again, have them think of a clock. Position 2 is purple, which is between red and blue, position 6 is green, which is between blue and yellow, and position 10 is orange, which is between red and yellow. 
  4. Blend a primary color with its adjacent secondary color to make a tertiary color. Blend red oil pastel with a purple oil pastel to make red-violet for position 1. Blend a blue oil pastel with a purple oil pastel to make blue-violet in position 3. Do the same for the remaining tertiary colors. Position 5 is blue-green, position 7 is yellow-green, position 9 is yellow-orange, and position 11 is red-orange.  Make sure you label the colors at what they should be....
  5. See the picture below to see what your Wheel should look like (in color only - your wheel should have circles on it like the below:

 You will be marked on how close you are to the actual colors.  13 colors in total -----  either a mark of 1 or 2 for each color and naming the parts.  See the attached and print it out for marking to be handed in with your wheel.  Thank you.

Assignment 2

  1. Compose a picture using either primary, secondary, or tertiary colors only.  Your picture can be anything, even abstract.  Take your time.

                6 proper colors  for what colors you chose  -   6 marks

                Effort  (1, 3, or 5) -------------------------------------    /5

                Makes sense (even abstract (1, 3, or 5)  ----   /5   

                Total -------------------------------------    /16


Two days in total for this