Warm & Cool Colors with Chiluly

The idea for this came from the Art In The Middle School Blog “Celebrating Creativity – Dale Chiluly”.  

This lesson is inspired by Chiluly’s Fiori Di Como.  Installed by a team of artisans onto the ceiling of the Bellagio in Las Vegas, the Fiori Di Como explodes with its translucent glass garden of light and color.

Fiori di Como
Fiori di Como (Photo credit: fensterbme)


Color Wheel - Primary GradesColor

Color refers to wavelengths of light.  Characteristics of color include the hue, value (lightness/darkness), intensity (saturation/amount of pigment), and temperature (warm/cool).  This lesson focuses on color temperature and value.

Color Vocabulary

  • Color Value: Value is defined as the relative lightness or darkness of a color.
  • Hue: Hue is the name of the spectrum of colors regardless of value.  For instance you might have a light blue or a dark blue, but the hue is just blue.
  • Color Wheel:  The color wheel or color circle is the basic tool for combining colors. The first circular color diagram was designed by Sir Isaac Newton in 1666.
  • Primary Colors: For our purposes, the three primary colors are red, blue, and yellow.
  • Secondary Colors:  The three secondary colors (green, orange and purple) are created by mixing two primary colors.
  • Color Temperature – Warm Colors:  Warm colors are vivid and energetic, and tend to advance in space.  Today we will be working with red, orange, & yellow.
  • Color Temerature – Cool Colors: Cool colors give an impression of calm, and create a soothing impression.  Today we will be working with green, blue, and purple.


Born in 1941, Dale Chiluly is a glass blower that elevated glass craftsmanship to fine art.  His work is characterized by organic forms inspired by nature, vibrant color, and light.  He is a modern day glass sculptor.  While Chiluly primarily designs his works of art, often he has a team of artists that produce some of the pieces and help him install them.  Click here to see more of Chiluly’s art.

Today you will each be creating pieces using coffee filters for a much bigger installation similar to Chiluly’s Fiori Di Como


  • 24 Cup Coffee Filters
  • Extra Large Coffee Filters
  • Crayola Washable Tempera Paint Diluted with Water 1:1. Dilute a set of the following colors for every 4 students: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple
  • Brushes (medium to large, enough for each paint cup & starch cup)
  • Sta-Flo Liquid Starch Diluted with Water 1:1.  1 for each set of four students.
  • Messy Mats to protect work surface.
  • 2 red cups for each student

What to Do:

  1. Start with the smaller coffee filter.  Turn the filter upside-down and press it flat messy mat.
  2. Cover the entire filter with the starch using the diluted starch.
  3. Paint the filter using either one or two warm colors OR one or two cool colors.  It doesn’t matter how.  You can try concentric circles, dots, heavy, light, drippy, blotted.  Experiment with the paint, more paint means a darker value, less will give you a lighter value.
  4. Think about how it feels as the paint glides over the surface of the filter.  Make sure your entire filter is covered with color. Carefully pull the filter up and drape it over the cup.
  5. Complete all the previous steps with the larger filter.  However, this time use the opposite temperature as you did with the smaller filter.  So if you chose cool colors before, now choose warm colors and vice versa.


For the Gallery

Once the “blooms” have dried, gently place them in a box.  We will be displaying them all together at our Gallery during Open House.  There is no need to have the kids put names on these and they will not be returned.


4 thoughts on “Warm & Cool Colors with Chiluly

  1. This was a great lesson, but I have a couple suggestions. I recommend that the students paint the coffee filters outside because it was very messy inside. Also, I think that butcher paper should be placed on the tables under the coffee filters because the large coffee filters were larger than the messy mats.

  2. It was a fun lesson for kids.

    I did a small introduction of the project at the beginning, and then a quick demonstration to get them oriented what we are doing today to the whole class. It is easier than telling them what to do and it is still not quite clear at the end.

    Then, I divided the class into three groups (7 to 8 kids per group). Therefore, there are only two of each color to make and four cups of diluted startch solution (two brushes each cup, 1/3 full of paint per cup). I set a small paper towel as a support for the small coffee filter at the back, so when the finished work is ready to transfer, it will be easy and less mess. It is a good idea to write their names on the coffee filter paper before the project is started.

    For the larger coffee filter set on a messy mat, I let each group did one as a team project. Every child contributed some role of the jobs to the project (such as picking their colors and designs into the filter) and then help them to finish it up with some professional suggestions. The larger filter paper will be dried on the mat overnight. If there is an extra hand to assist, it will make the project move quickly.

Leave a Reply

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

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com 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