Abstract Color Wheel: Color Mixing & Bias: Middle: High School Color Wheel

Abstract Color Wheel: Color Mixing & Bias: Middle: High School Color Wheel

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Color theory and the color wheel can be tedious for students when doing a long drawn-out lesson on the color wheel. But when you make learning about colors and color mixing an exploration, it teaches students the same concept in a quick and easy lesson that is fun to teach and learn.

Beginning High School and Middle School Art students will love painting this abstract color wheel that has them create primary, secondary and tertiary colors in a linear exploration of color mixing and color bias. Everything you need to teach this art project successfully is included, from videos to worksheets!


  • 4 Page Lesson Plan
    National Standards for grades 8-12; Big ideas, Essential questions, Goals and Objectives, Instructional Materials, Supplies, and detailed process. Also included are Resource links and vocabulary.
  • 17-page editable PowerPoint Lesson Presentation & PDF
  • 2 Demonstration Videos: Color Bias Demonstration & Abstract Color Wheel Process Demonstration Video
  • Student Project Checklist
  • Written Critique Sheets
  • Student Self-Evaluation as Word Doc and PDF


  • 5” x 9” Watercolor Paper
  • Grumbacher Watercolor tube paints were used in the demonstration in the following colors:
  • Gamboge or Cadmium Yellow Medium – Orange Bias
  • Pale Yellow Hue – Green Bias
  • Cadmium Red Medium – Orange Bias
  • Alizarin Crimson – Violet Bias
  • Cobalt Blue – Violet Bias
  • Thalo Blue – Green Bias
  • No. 4 Round Brush
  • Water cups
  • Permanent markers of varies sizes (Micron pens or Sharpies)

Students will:

  • Show all the primary colors including different biases
  • Mix all the secondary colors using both biases.
  • Mix a minimum of six tertiary colors
  • Define the different colors in their final abstract art using black or white ink.
  • Demonstrate the following elements of art: Color, Shape, Line
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the following principles of art: Variety/Contrast
  • Reflect on their final art in written form
  • Participate in critique of work (optional)


Primary Colors: red, yellow or blue: each of the three basic colors of the spectrum, red, yellow, or blue are primary additive colors, from which all other colors can be blended.

Secondary Colors: color made of two primary colors: a color produced by mixing two primary colors in roughly equal quantities, e.g. orange, green, or purple.

Tertiary Colors: a color made by mixing two secondary colors together or by mixing a primary color with the secondary color closest to it.

Color Bias: Every pigment has a color bias, meaning the color encroaches a neighboring hue on the color wheel. Even the purest primary colors will have a color bias as they can never possess the purity of scattered light.

Line: It is literally the extension of a dot. However, when the line intersects itself, it becomes a shape.

Shape: A closed line. Shapes can be geometric, like squares and rectangles, or organic, like free-formed shapes or natural shapes. Shapes are flat and can express length and width.

Contrast is the arrangement of opposite elements (light vs. dark colors, rough vs. smooth textures, large vs. small shapes, etc.) in a piece so as to create visual interest, excitement, and drama.

Variety is an assortment of lines, shapes, colors and other elements of art that create interest in a piece of artwork.

National Visual Arts Standards Anchor Standards:


Anchor Standard #1. Generate and conceptualize artistic ideas and work.

Anchor Standard #2. Organize and develop artistic ideas and work.

Anchor Standard #3. Refine and complete artistic work


Anchor Standard #7. Perceive and analyze artistic work.

Anchor Standard #8. Interpret intent and meaning in artistic work.

Anchor Standard #9. Apply criteria to evaluate artistic work.

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