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“A Color of His Own” Art Lesson

If you’ve been following my blog for any time length of time, you might have noticed that in addition to art, my biggest love is books. I incorporate books into my art lessons every chance I get. They’re my biggest source of inspiration when it comes to dreaming up lessons and books are usually the last thing I think about before nodding off to sleep. Leo Lionni’s “A Color of His Own” speaks to a child’s never-ending quest to be liked just as they are. The illustrations are simple, clean and perfect.

Random House has a wonderful site devote to Leo Lionni. His books as well as biographical information is included. Check it out here.

I read this story to my kinder classes and embarked on a directed line drawing of a chameleon. We began by drawing the eye, then a triangle for the head and kept right on going around the body to make a curly, whirly tail. So fun! We used crayons to draw shapes or lines, then filled in the sections with watercolor paints. I used pan watercolors with one class and liquid watercolors with another. The class using pans didn’t finish the project in the thirty minute time-frame. The class using the liquid watercolors did. I think there is a great deal of benefit from learning how to mingle watercolor paints from the pan, but it seems to work better for older children. If you have a small group, pan watercolors are perfectly fine.



  1. You are not going to believe this, but I just bought this book yesterday at an antique shop with the intention of doing a “Deep Space Sparkle” themed painting of it. I guess I was meant to buy it!


    November 1, 2010

    • Very serendipitous!


      November 1, 2010

  2. I am soo thrilled that you are incorporating art with picture books! I just love children’s lit and always feel clueless regarding art, since we don’t have a formal art teacher. I went this weekend and bought your recommended materials to make the scarecrow project…going to read “Waltz of the Scarecrow” by Constance McGeorge & have the kids create their own! I am anxious to see how oil pastels do…I haven’t picked one of those up in about 15 years! Thanks for the inspiration!


    November 1, 2010

  3. Mr. Lionni is one of my favorite authors! I read this to my kinders last year, so this year we’ll read and paint! Thanks!


    November 1, 2010

  4. The boys just love the lizards… I love your site. Use it all the time. Thanks,


    November 1, 2010

  5. Cute project but I really wanted to stop and say, I LOVE the updated website. WOWSA! It looks awesome. Easy to read and navigate.. Well done!


    November 2, 2010

    • Gotta love chameleons, huh? They make the best subject for an art lesson!


      November 6, 2010

  6. How funny. I did this project as a filler for my K’s last week when I had time left at the end of class. I am a huge fan of your site. 🙂 Thanks for all you do on here!



    November 8, 2010

  7. We used your ideas with the book The Mixed-Up Chameleon by Eric Carle. The class is K/1st blended. Each child did their own version of the chameleon and then added different animal parts that I had pre-cut from various papers (foil, tissue,papers of varying thickness, etc) to create their very own mixed up lizard. Then they wrote a description of their animal—just like in the book!


    January 27, 2011

  8. Thanks for inspiring meg who inspired me! I am posting our cute attempt at this as I type! xox


    February 22, 2011

  9. I just did this project with a 1st grade class today – It was excellent. The segment we were studying had to do with using colors and mixing.
    I split the chameleon using four lines and then only using primary colors for the body. I did the first segment near the head blue watercolor, left space, center segment red water color, space and then last segment yellow. I then had the kids get extra watery paint of each color and blend the two bordering colors making a new color – the blue/red bordered segment turned purple and the yellow/red segment turned orange.

    We then used what ever color they wanted for the head/legs/tail.
    They turned out great and the kids had awesome rainbow chameleons using three colors.
    Hopefully that made sense.


    April 17, 2012

    • Love this technique! Thanks for sharing.


      April 23, 2012

  10. Outstanding information on Deep Space Sparkle – Chameleon Art Lesson for Children… It is definitely
    one of the most helpful that I’ve found in a long time.
    I have been awaiting this content..

    Stress Relief Desktop

    August 21, 2012

  11. I love this idea. I fell in love with chameleons when watching a paint manufacturing ad, valspar interior  house paint.
    The idea of watercolor painting chameleons to go along with a story book sounds delightful to me and I imagine the children loved it. Its easy to paint little rainbow chameleons and all children are artists. I am a retired elementary teacher and I love this wonderful confidence building art lesson . I loved teaching art with literature. Awesome.


    July 13, 2013

  12. Love the variety of chameleons! Did you have the children observe and discuss each other’s chameleons? So many things they would also learn from seeing each other’s versions in addition to having the opportunity to be expressive!

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