How to Paint a Rainbow Wheel

This colourful art project from Jennie Maizels is a beautiful dose of positivity, to display in your window or brighten your home


What are the things you’ll remember most about this time when we are able to look back and reflect? One of the key features of our quiet towns in lockdown are all the painted rainbows brightening the streets. Some people have put them up in their windows, some have painted murals on the walls of their houses. Every one is a message of hope and thanks, to our communities and the key workers who care for us all. So what better art project this week than to make a colourful Rainbow Wheel? It is guaranteed to lift your spirits and uplift everyone who sees it.

Follow this easy art tutorial with Seasalt Friend, Jennie Maizels of Sketchbook Club® to create your own.

Make your wheel

First of all let’s make our circle to create our colour wheel. It’s up to you what material you use. You can buy ready cut circles on eBay quite cheaply (40cm X 40cm is a good size) or you could cut it out of cardboard, from an old box.

Once you have your circle, it’s probably a good idea to paint it white first, unless your card is already white.

Next, choose either a 12 segment or 16 segment circle (if you wish to go a bit more ‘free-style and add more colours). Click on the template you’d like to use below and print it out.

Place your template in the centre of your circle. Find the centre by measuring the circumference and making sure the centre is at the half-way point. Position the template with a little tape.

Draw your segments

There are two ways of doing this, firstly, you could use a blunt knife (cutlery or butter knife) and score lines, using a ruler and following the lines of the template.

Secondly, you could draw in the lines from the centre with the paper stuck down and then finish the lines with a ruler once the paper is removed. This is the best way if you are using wood.

Remember, you could always do this freehand. Wobbly is charming! Or add more segments, it’s up to you. Once you have finished, you will now have a guide as to where the colour segments go.

Finding your palette

It’s now time to start creating our colour wheel by working our way through the spectrum. We’ll be experimenting as we go in order to create a definitive palette. Creating a colour wheel is a brilliant way of increasing your colour mixing knowledge and discovering new colours you hadn’t investigated before. Plus, they are so gorgeous displayed at home.

A note about paint

I use acrylic paint because it is plastic based, so wipe clean. Great if this is going to be a permanent display in your home. My one tip with acrylics, is because they are plastic based they can be quite translucent, if you add a dash of white, especially to the yellow, it can give it a bit of depth and make the colours more intense.

Paint your Rainbow Wheel

So, we will be starting with one of my favourite colours – yellow.

Spend some time, looking at examples of yellows online and around your home that you are drawn to. Start to mix some yellows, experimenting with different hues. What happens if we add a dash of green, or white, or even grey? Play around with the multitude of variations and as you go, whenever a colour resonates with you, be sure to make notations as to how you mixed it in your sketchbook.

When you feel you have exhausted all possibilities of yellows, pick your favourite. This will be the first segment on your colour wheel. It may take a couple of layers to get a nice smooth even colour.

We will continue this process, working on the following colours in order: Yellow, Yellow/Orange, Orange, Orange/Red, Red, Pink. If you are creating a 16-segment circle, here is where you might like to add White, Grey, Brown and Black – in between the pink and the purple. Then Purple, Dark Blue, Mid Blue, Light Blue, Green, Green/Yellow (Lime Green).

Remember, we are not trying to be overly accurate, I added a florescent pink in mine because I love bright colours, so do make it your own and add any colours you love too.

I hope this helps you find your own personal palette. Over the many years of teaching and running Sketchbook Club®, it is clear to me that each and every one of us is drawn to certain shades that make up a very distinct and personal palette.

About Jennie

Jennie Maizels is a Hampshire-based illustrator who makes art accessible through her brilliant online Sketchbook Club®. She studied illustration at Central St Martins and went on to create fantastical window displays for Harvey Nichols, illustrate numerous pop-up books and design beautiful iron-on patches – or clothes plasters – to repair and personalise clothing and interiors.

Jennie has previously hosted art workshops in our Seasalt shops, so we were delighted when she agreed to share some online tutorials for our customers and staff. Her virtual art classes are suitable for all ages and abilities and you’ll learn lots of useful tips and tricks along the way.

We will be bringing you lots more from the Sketchbook Club® over the coming weeks and there are more tutorials available over on Jennie’s Sketchbook Club®.

We’d love to see your Rainbow Wheels! Show us what you create on Facebook or Instagram using #SeasaltArtsClub.