Lesson 7

Painting a monochromatic composition

Art Projects for Primary School Students by Raquel Redmond

Chroma Art supplies, chromaonline.com

Chroma2 paint, from Chroma  Australia has been used in this painting tutorial.

Art Technique


Age Group

Years 1 to 7


Students learn colour mixing and how to create a painting with variations of the one colour


Two sessions of 1 hour and a half each

Room arrangement

To create a good working area and to facilitate sharing of paint and water containers, group the desks in fours or fives and cover with small newspaper pages



  • 1 × A3 piece cartridge paper per student (for their painting)
  • 1 ×  A4 piece cartridge paper per student (for recording their shades and tints
  • 1 roll of sandwich paper cut to A4 size or several pieces of scrap paper for mixing paint in Session 1 and Session 2 if required
  • Chroma2 paint in: cool blue, cool red or dark green depending on the colours chosen for the project, plus black and white.
  • 1 medium paint brush # 6
  • 1 small paint brush # 3
  • 1 piece of rag per student to wipe brushes
  • 6 or 8 plastic containers for water, (ice cream containers are ideal), 2 per group
  • 6 or 8 plastic ice cube trays for paint, 2 per group
  • 1 roll of cling wrap to cover the paint trays
  • 1 old oversized T-shirt per student to protect their uniforms


A list of recyclable materials and equipment can be sent home asking parents to send things such as:

  • a paint shirt with sleeves cut off, plus extra old T-shirts to cut up for rags and a bunch of small newspapers to cover the tables
  • ice cream containers and discarded ice cube trays

Carefully organise the list to avoid having too many containers, or too many newspapers.

Chroma 2 Paint

1 set of 8 x 2L bottles of the 6 primary colours plus black and white should be a big enough supply of paint for a year for a class of 25 students. It will cover painting, printmaking and other projects as Chroma 2 paints well on surfaces like clay, timber and fabrics.

Recommended colours

  • cool blue
  • warm blue
  • cool yellow
  • warm yellow
  • cool red
  • warm red
  • black
  • white
This project has been designed to suit normal classroom conditions and illustrates how the classroom can be adapted to create working space required.

Paint notes

Paint spilt on garments will come off when washed by hand. Rinse the garment in cold running water and rub the area where the paint has dried. Soak for a minimum of 2 hours or overnight in a laundry tub or a bucket, add 2 table spoons of laundry detergent and enough water to cover the garment. After soaking, rub off the remaining paint in the sudsy water and hey presto... a clean shirt!


By the time children start primary school most of them are ready to extend their learning about art.

Colour is very exciting for young children and this project offers them the opportunity to explore and experiment with colour.

This project is about how to paint a composition using just one principal colour plus black and white, and how that one colour changes by adding black or white to it.


  • To provide students with practical experience in colour mixing
  • To give students an understanding of colour and the idea that they can use one colour plus black or white to create different tones of the same colour

Room set-up

To create a good working area and to facilitate sharing of paint and water containers, group the desks in fours or fives and cover with small newspaper pages (1).

Before you start showing visual references and demonstrate the procedure, make sure everything is in ready place.

Put the paint in ice cube trays and the water in ice-cream containers (2 or 3 per group for each). Give each student a small sized paint brush, a piece of rag to wipe the paint brushes, a piece of scrap paper for mixing the paint on (2) and A4 paper with a grid drawn on it for recording their shades and tints (3).


You will need either one or two sessions depending on the time available for each session and the age of your students – older ones probably need less time.  If you need a second session, students will need to re-mix their shades and tints before they can start drawing.

First session

Visual references

The best sources of visual references are on the internet.  Picasso’s Blue Period Paintings or Rose Period Paintings are useful.

Colour mixing

So students understand colour mixing get them to do it.

To create a Shade start with the original colour (blue in this example) and add black, first a bit and then increasing the amount, to create a range of different blues (3).

To create a Tint, start with the original colour and add white to create different blues from dark to very light. It doesn’t matter how many shades or tints young children can mix, but it is important for them to understand how adding black or white changes a colour.

Second session

Composition set-up

Set up a simple composition on a desk with only two or three simple objects plus a patterned table cloth as shown in 4.

Talk to the students about the composition in front of them. Help them to find how the objects relate to each other by asking them: Which object ‘sits’ in front?  Which object ‘sits’ on the side?  Which object ‘sits’ at the back?


To use the paint brush as a drawing tool, add water to one colour of paint to make it thin and runny so it can be used for drawing the composition (5).

Young children will draw the objects on a line without overlapping them.  It does not matter at this point; they will learn how to overlap objects later on.


Once the students have completed their colour mixing, they can apply paint in a loose and expressive way – see examples at the beginning of this project and in the Gallery at the end.

1. Room arrangement
2. Resources for students
3. Shades and tints
4. Sample compositions
5. Drawing a composition


tutorial9-gallery1 tutorial9-gallery2 tutorial9-gallery3 tutorial9-gallery4