Nothing inspires me as much as seeing anything – YES ANYTHING – laid out in order of colour……… first ‘grown up’ job was as a management trainee at a major dept store & on the way to my dept each morning, I would come to the top of the escalator on the second floor, look up to the back wall where there was every colour towel imaginable….. stacked in colour order (by that I mean how it would appear on the colour wheel) – I used to take the time – most mornings to just stop & drink it in!  It was my substitute for smelling the roses. I was 18 then and I am 50 now – and the joy is just the same – it must be in my DNA! LOL!!  SO – for me – seeing a finished colour wheel – in what ever form it takes – is my highest visual pleasure!


  • Acrylic or tempera paint, or gouache (only choose one medium)
  • Pencil, ruler, (& perhaps an eraser)
  • 3 equal  large circles cut from sturdy white paper or light card
  • Paper/Cardboard/pinboard to ‘mount’ or assemble colour wheel on
  • Recycled ‘pots’ for mixing colour in (yogurt tubs, big block ice cube trays, etc)


From experience of creating colour wheels in a variety of settings, it is better to begin with more paint than less, as it is difficult to make the absolute shade again without exact measuring, which takes all the fun out of it for kids.  I like doing this in equal sized plastic recycled yogurt tubs and placing them around in a circle as they are created.

Cut your circles into ‘wedges’ as follows:

secondary colour wheel

–         1 = 3 equal wedges = primary colours
–         2 = 6 equal wedges = secondary colours
–         3 = 12 equal wedges = tertiary colours

Keep each circle together as a group.

If you are making examples to show, it’s easier to paint all the primary wedges from each group first, then mixing secondary colours, painting wedges of each of those from secondary & tertiary group, then do the final mix and paint the remaining tertiary colours.

BUT if you are creating it with/in front of kids, painting the wedges the most efficient way, is not necessarily the best way for learning & it is better if you begin each one & paint the primary colours in, then paint in the subsequent mixed colours.

Once all of the wedges are painted (as per following instructions), assemble the colour wheels in order on to a separate piece of card or pinned into a circle on a pin board.  You could also glue them on to ‘sheet magnetic’ material & use them on the fridge.

You should end up with 3 colour wheels:  PRIMARY, SECONDARY, & TERTIARY.

As the name suggests – Primary Yellow, Red & Blue are PRIMARY – as in first – they cannot be created with a mix of colours – they are the basic pigments (colours).

The secondary colours are created by adding equal amounts of adjacent primary colours, creating a second ‘tier’

tertiary colour wheel

of colours

–         orange (primary red + yellow)
–         green (primary yellow + blue)
–         purple (primary blue + red)

The tertiary colours are created by adding equal amounts of a primary, to its adjacent secondary colour, which in turn creates a third ‘tier’ of colours

–         mango (primary yellow + orange)
–         tomato red (orange + primary red)
–         plum (primary red + purple)
–         iris (purple + primary blue)
–         cucumber (Primary blue + green)

–         lettuce (green + primary yellow)

The only way to create a colour wheel is in some medium where you can add them together to create a new blend so ‘painting wet media’ work well.  Other things you could try, although with some of them you may struggle to get purity of colour: alcohol inks; food dye, watercolour pencils or crayons.  The point is to create a new colour from two existing colours.  If you just want to create a colour wheel or represent what a colour wheel looks like – you can use all kinds of things to do it – here are some ideas that I have seen on the www.

I would LOVE, LOVE you to send me pics or links of anywhere you see colour wheels/colour arrayed as you are creating or are out & about.

YES – THIS IS REAL – you can read more about it here:


I bought one of these in France – I LOVED it – so me!

6 responses »

  1. Pingback: Summer Holiday Bucket List | The Positive Primary Blog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s