I'm all about packing as much knowledge into as little time as possible. Who wants to spend weeks on color theory? Not me and certainly not my students. Applying knowledge in student directed artwork is how I want my kids to spend the limited hours we're given together.
Enter the color mixing challenge.
I start by telling the class that we'll be having a group challenge and that they'll need to know the following information to help their team. Next, I spend 5 minutes going over some basic color theory while they take notes. I cover primary, secondary and complementary colors, plus how to mix tints and shades.
Then it's time for the challenge.
Each group gets a palette of primaries and white, plus a magazine page. The challenge is to match as many colors from the magazine as possible.
They talk and mix beautifully complex colors, applying vocabulary and processing new information as the do it. Colors that are created are matched right on the magazine page for immediate feedback. It's easy to set up, quick and fun, plus it creates the needed foundation of knowledge for further paint exploration - my idea of the perfect lesson.
I'm an high school art teacher who's really interested in student choice and creating opportunities for self expression. I'm also a writer for The Art of Education and co-author of The Open Art Room.