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Monochromatic Painting Lesson Plan

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Lesson Plan #:AELP-ARA0009
Author: Marcella Embry
School or Affiliation: Washoee Co. GT, NV Date: 1994

Grade Level(s): 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12


  • Arts/Visual Arts
  • Arts/Process Skills

Overview: This activity is very simple to prepare and only requires that the students have access to a sink.

Purpose: This activity is designed to create a connection between art and language, and to generate critical discussion.


1. Students will experiment with monochromatic painting.
2. Students will create an original monochromatic painting.
3. Students will learn and understand the definitions of monochromatic, tint, and shade.
4. Students will analyze their paintings objectively.
5. Students will determine the connection between color and emotion.


1. tint – adding white to a color to create different hues
2. shading – adding black to a color to create different hues
3. monochromatic – artwork created using one color
4. palette – a flat piece of wood or plastic on which an artist mixes colors for painting


1. white art paper (either 9 x 12 or 12 x 18)
2. undiluted tempra paint, multiple colors
3. paint brushes, multiple brush sizes
4. paint palettes (can use plastic plates)
5. containers of water (to rinse brushes)
6. rulers, compasses, protractors, pencils

Activities and Procedures: Have students close their eyes and imagine that they are either flying or sailing through the Bermuda Triangle. It is a beautiful day without a cloud in the sky. Decide what color would best describe how you feel right now.

As you continue to travel through the Bermuda Triangle, you begin to feel uncomfortable, a little apprehensive. Something is not quite right. What color is this feeling?

Suddenly you see it. It is the most scary thing you’ve ever seen. What color is this emotion?

Explain to the students that they will be making a monochromatic painting today using one of the colors that described their feeling as they journeyed through the Bermuda Triangle. Demonstrate how different hues are made from color by adding different quantities of white (tinting) or black (shading). Place a small amount of a color of paint on your palette. Mix in a small amount of white paint. Move over on the palette and do the same thing only adding more white (tint) to your color. Make several hues with your color and black (shade).

Give each student a piece of paper, his/her choice of one color of paint,white and black paint, a palette, and a brush. Have the students create large overlapping geometric shapes and fill them in with their new hues using different brushes. Have the students cover the paper completely with the new hues.

Tying It Together:

Have students discuss:

1. how they created certain hues.
2. their impressions of monochromatic painting.
3. how color can be used to portray emotion.
4. what they might do differently next time.