Starting points for paint and colour

Observation and curiousity

Opportunities to notice colour in the environment help children to:

  • Develop visual awareness
  • Develop sensitivity to colour
  • Investigate and analyse colour in the natural and built environments

While children’s early preoccupations are with mark-making and developing symbols, they are very drawn to colour. It is important therefore to help them develop awareness of colour in the immediate environment as early as possible and to help them identify primary and secondary colours, as well as lighter and darker colours.

To broaden their experience of colour, play colour matching games and colour-sorting games with a variety of colour materials, including fabric and fibre.With guidance, they will begin to notice colour subtleties. As they progress, observation and analysis of colour in the environment become increasingly important. Noticing the everyday use of complementary, related and neutralised (dulled) colours and having opportunities to experiment with them will help the children to understand the effects that can be created with colour.

It is important that children have lots of opportunities to look attentively at the work of artists, to see how artists use colour and to experience the impact of great paintings. It is very enriching for them to see paintings (or slides or prints) that relate to their work in hand or are a stimulus for further work or simply for the sheer enjoyment they afford.

Children need guidance in looking at paintings so as to understand what the artist intended and how he/she went about it. They also need time to reflect on what they see and to make their own personal response to it. It is important that children are exposed to a wide variety of painting styles.