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Complementary Color Mixing

Posted on 04/24/20 by Amanda in Early Childhood

We often talk about color mixing with primary colors, but what happens when we mix colors that are on opposite sides of the color wheel?

Looking at the chart above, complementary colors are those opposite from the primary colors of red, blue, and yellow.

First begin by experimenting with mixing primary colors. If they don't already know what to expect, they'll be surprised to see that blue + yellow = green, blue + red = purple, and yellow + red = orange.

But, when complementary colors mix, they cancel each other out! Mixing complementary colors like blue and orange, purple and yellow, and green and red will create grayscale colors like white or black. Mix each color and them compare. Which pair makes a darker color? Which makes a lighter one? Can you create black, gray, white?

You can explore color mixing in a variety of ways:

  • Mix paint together on paper
  • Put watercolors in separate water cups, add a paper towel between to see color mixing and absorption happen before you eyes
  • Create color mixing sensory bags: add two paint colors to a plastic bag, zip and mix! You can also add shaving cream for an added sensory element.

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