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Lesson 9: Mixing Colors with Watercolors



We’ve learned how to use watercolors to make lines, marks and paint light and dark colors, now let’s see how we can mix them to make new colors!

Grade Level

Pre-K & K





  • Unit & Lessons
  • Teaching Tools

Materials and Tools

  • Set of watercolors 
  • Cup of water (use a shallow container with a wide base that won’t spill) 
  • Paper towel to dry brush 
  • 9 x 12” or 12 x 18” paper


Step by Step:  

  1. Open your watercolor set.  
  1. Let’s start with one of the primary colors—blue. 
  1. Take out the paintbrush. How do we use the paint? Remember we need to wake it up!
  1. Start with water, wake up the color, then try the blue on the paper. Make a patch of color. 
  1. Let’s try the same thing with yellow. But what will happen if we put our brush with blue on it into the yellow? We need to clean our brush!  
  1. Dip the brush into the water and gently “stir, stir, stir, stop”. OR “1, 2, 3, stop!” 
  1. Now let’s try the yellow. Wake it up and make a patch of color.  
  1. What will happen if we make a new patch of blue and next to it add a patch of yellow? What, do you think, will happen when they start to meet each other? Watercolors spread into each other. What happened when they touched?! 
  1. Let’s try another way to mix! Make a patch of yellow, clean your brush, then add a little bit of blue onto it. Mix them together with your brush. How did the color change? 
  1. Let’s try one more way to mix. Use your brush to make a patch of water on the paper. Then dab your brush into the blue. Next, dab little dots of the blue onto the water, then little dots of yellow. How does this green look different from the others?  
  1. Try making green with more yellow than blue. Then, more blue than yellow. How are they different? 
  1. Keep mixing all different kinds of greens! How else can you mix these paints? Remember! Clean your brush when you change colors. 

Prompts for Independent Art Making: 
Do you remember how to mix orange and purple? Try making a painting with as many different oranges as you can. Try making a painting with as many purples as you can. Try different ways of mixing both-dry brush and wet-on-wet 

Artists for Inspiration:

James Brown and Fairfield Porter

Look at these paintings. Can you find areas where the artist mixed colors? How do you think the artist mixed them? Are they light or dark? Can you find areas where the colors are overlapping on top of other colors? 

Reflection Questions

  • What was your favorite way to mix green? What kind of green did it make? 
  • How do watercolors mix differently from oil pastels?


Primary colors 


James Brown

Fairfield Porter

Books: Mix It Up by Hervé Tullet’