Search form

The Eric Carle Museum
of Picture Book Art
  • 125 West Bay Road
  • Amherst, MA 01002


  • Thursday, Friday10 am-3 pm
  • Saturday 10am – 4 pm
  • Sunday 12 pm - 4 pm

Closed Monday,Tuesday, Wednesday

Accessibility Information

Visit the carle


Making Art Together

Orange and Blue Complementary Colors at the Light Table

 Originally posted on December 19th, 2013 by Sarah Johnston

Our guests have had so much fun experimenting with our yellow and purple light table display that is seemed like a good idea to explore a new pair of complementary colors.


I looked through our collection of light table items and found we had a good number of blue and orange papers and objects that really popped on the light table.  Sometimes the simplest materials are the best for color explorations which is why we have many different papers cut into simple shapes that we then laminate.  We often use Folia brand Transparent Paper because it is a little more sturdy than tissue paper and holds up well to painting, but it has the translucent quality that makes it perfect for the light table.  From laminated papers to transparent blocks, our variety of purchased and homemade objects are great for playing with color and texture.


A favorite lesson of mine when I was an art teacher in Chicago was to show images like the one below, Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh, and have students see how much more bright the orange moon and stars looked next to the deep blue sky.  After seeing how different artists used color it was always fun to have children explore the complementary colors pairs in their own artworks and color explorations.


Another captivating discovery that children make about color is when they can layer or blend complementary colors.  The light table is a perfect way to  see how the complementary colors turn more neutral when layered on top of each other. With older students I would build on this concept of complementary colors by showing how a small touch green could add a brownish shadow to a bright red apple and give it depth.  Below is an example of  how a neutral brown is created when blending Cadmium Orange with Cobalt Blue from the website The Educated Palette.


Here you can see how some  neutral colors are created when the complementary colors are overlapped on our light table.  This is a quick and less messy way to learn how colors mix and blend to form new colors.  Of course it is also fun for children to try out color mixing with paint or other materials!


Please stop by our new light table display to explore all the blues and oranges we have out.  Do you have any ways to teach about or explore complementary colors?  Please share any ideas with us by leaving a comment.



We enjoy exploring materials and ideas in the Art Studio, and we’re excited to share our process with you! Please consider the following factors when adapting these posts for your learning environment: 

We facilitate a variety of programs within the Art Studio for a wide range of age groups. Please carefully consider the age appropriateness of each individual activity in your own learning environment.

Our projects are always done with adult supervision and proper safety precautions. Be sure all of your projects are overseen by adults who likewise follow proper safety precautions. The adults overseeing your project must also be responsible for handling or assisting with any potentially harmful equipment or materials. 

The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art is not responsible for any damages, injuries or liabilities that result from any activities contained within this website, and we expressly disclaim any responsibility or liability therefor. From time to time, we reference materials that we have found to be particularly important in our projects. We do not receive any monetary compensation for recommending materials. 



by Diana MacKenzie

  • Tags:

This entry was posted on Tuesday, January 7th, 2014 at 12:42 pm and is filed under By Diana MacKenzie, Toddlers, Light, Preschool. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

Add a New Comment

Leave a reply

This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
To Top