In the lower grades, painting lessons are introduced with a short story in which the colors are characters interacting according to their inherent qualities. For example: “Bold red hopped in the center and yelled, ‘Is anyone ready to play?’ Very shyly, quiet blue stepped forward and then circled around along the edge. He picked up his courage and went to meet red…”
Time may be devoted to presenting each color separately and in interaction with every other in a wide variety of compositions and gestures. Up to third grade, however, the children tend to paint primary, secondary, and tertiary colors, delighting in the variety of color combinations and in the clear personality of each.
By third grade the children are creating compositions that express the content of a story as well as the mood of a season. Tertiary colors may now be mixed to form a variety of shades including brown. The children are ready to see forms arise from the color: a blue tree against a lighter moonlit winter sky; a golden pyramid amidst the dry desert sands, etc. The themes follow the curriculum: animals in fourth grade, botany in fifth, as well as the stories of the language arts curriculum.
In grade five, active (lighter) and passive (darker) colors are explored. What happens when the sun illuminates one side of an image? By sixth grade the students are ready to take on greater challenges, using brushes of varied sizes, and varying the wetness of the paper and the intensity of the color. Soon they will begin the veil painting technique, where their long‐time experience of color matures. They become sensitive in seeing an image arise through the gradual layering of veils of color. In grade seven, color is studied during different times of the day (what happens if the sun is behind a mountain or in front of it?). Perspective and the influence of the Renaissance are topics explored this year. In eighth grade, wet‐on‐wet landscapes, such as cultural landscape studies and scenes from the Industrial Revolution, are painted and also rendered in pastels.