Unsurprisingly, color theory is a staple in every traditional art curriculum. But in my art class, I strive to push past the traditional. Of course students need to learn color theory, color mixing, and color vocabulary… but how can we present these lessons in a more hands-on and progressive way?
We took on this challenge in our Primary art room at Green School Bali. Our goal was to create a large-scale color wheel sourced entirely from our natural environment. Students of all ages scavenged the campus for shades of each color, discovering everything from a blue rudraksha berry (a sacred seed used for malas in the local Hindu culture), to a young pineapple in neon pink, and a strikingly teal kingfisher feather.
Excitement built as a huge circular color spectrum grew on the art room floor. Before long, students were spending their breaks hunting for new colors to contribute to the circle. When it was finally complete, we made observations, debated hue, and recognized our own varying perceptions of what color is. Then, we traveled deeper into those colors by grinding the fibers of the plants we’d found and experimenting with natural dyes.
Creating a color wheel from nature was not only a new way to think about color theory, it also gave students from K to 5 a chance to participate equally on a single project. Color is something we all share and value; everyone is included when your goal is to make a rainbow.