Hervé Tullet’s ‘Mix it up’ in action and where it all went wrong!

Do you know books from Hervé Tullet?  you might have noticed them already, they usually have loads of colours or loads of cut up wholes in them so they are hard to miss.

I heard great reviews about them and decided to buy one before even having  look at it first so the first time I held the ‘Mix it up!’  book in my hand I did not know what to think about it to be honest.  It looked like someone else had used it with all the colourful smudges and fingerprints. There was not much text just an overload of colours and paint stains. I must be honest that I was bit disappointed and already started to think how to sell it and get at least some of my money back. Then suddenly Teddy, then 15 months I believe, spotted it and being intrigued by all the colours he demanded that I read it to him so I decided to keep it. I still do not know what it is about this book but he just loves it and it has been thoroughly read time and time again! Since then we got a couple of more books from the author and we borrowed a few more from our local library.

As soon as I gave the book mixed it up a chance I grew to like it and I knew we have to try this colour mixing in real life. I have waited for Teddy to grow a little bit to really appreciate it and do it properly instead of just mixing the paint with his hands….well…maybe I should have waited a bit longer. My plans of how to execute this activity were perfect and I could see the post already written in my head but it did not really work out the way it was supposed to.

First I though of a way to do it to have minimum mess while achieve maximum impact and I decided to let Teddy squirt a little bit of colour out of the tub directly on to the paper and then mixed it up with his finger. I had a bowl of water and cloth ready by his side so what could possibly go wrong. The first few pages cover the basic colour mixing, so in this case, take a little bit of red and mix it into the blue to get purple.


Well, it did not really go wrong it just did not work, he didn’t seem to get enough of one colour onto another one to reach the desired effect so we opted for a brush….oh well so instead of his finger I just washed the brush, again how hard it could be….

This actually gave us the colour we were after, well at least a little bit but as there was too much paint on the paper Teddy has seen it as an invitation to just paint until he uses up all the paint…! ok so maybe this is not the way forward either and I must add we did use up an awful amount of paint and when it came to the pages where you are supposed to shake, tilt or press two pages together to get the colours mixed, it did not work at all. Don’t get me wrong we did end up with some gorgeous patterns but not even close to those we were expecting to achieve.

The green lines were just not happening after few minutes of shaking it vigorously so Teddy decided to give it a helping hand, literally!

Yep, that’s exactly how it should look like!!
I must say he was really happy with the result but not even a tiny bit of orange colour in sight!

I do not like to give up so we went back to giving it another try a bit later on, Teddy did not need much persuading, he sees a tub of paint and runs. I have thought that this time I let Teddy paint the dots on to the paper with a brush, rather than squirting the paint out and then let him use his finger again to mix the colours. In the book it looks like he did not use much paint anyway so this must be the right way forward, musn’t it?

So, we did that and I must say the first half of the book worked great and he managed to mix all the colours almost looking like Mr Tullet did it himself! Perfect!

Ok, maybe not the same as in the book but at least we got green out of it!
See! The colours are getting lighter, result!

Well, then we tried again to shake and tilt the paper and of course that did not work, well it did not work with loads of paint so how could we make the paint runny with only bit of it on the paper.  So Mr Tullet, how did you do it? The only thing I could think of was to make the two colours run into each other to squirt loads of the paint in a deeper dish and then shake it? But how to do it on a paper? You must have had some good paint! Teddy thought of a way to make it green anyway…

Then we tried to press the red spot on top of the yellow one. With loads of paint it did not work out but I was really optimistic about it when using only little bit of paint…oh well I was wrong again. we did end up with a beautiful print but no orange colour in site again!

Yep, nailed it again!
Ok, I give you this one! Doesn’t really look like yours but at least we could see some grey!

Well so after going through tons of paper, a gallon of paint and numerous trips to the sink to wash his hands as he decided to use his hands few times to help the mixing along, we have came to conclusion that we cannot recreate every page of Mix it up but you know what, we didn’t mind. We had an absolute blast trying it out and it doesn’t matter if you get any paint on your book as you probably won’t even notice seeing that it is full of paint smudges anyway! You might ask then, why have I written this post about an activity that does not work…well I thought about it and thought it might be good to show you, that not every activity I plan really works out. There are often things that go wrong, or your child just does not like the way you want them to do it and chooses their own way and it does not matter! The most important thing is that you did it together, you might have learnt from your mistakes or you haven’t but you had a great time trying it!

The colour mixing is also a great tool to help develop hand eye coordination and control, concentration, colour recognition but also language development as you use descriptive words while encouraging them mix the colours in different ways. It also helps develop scientific thinking in a form of observation and prediction followed by comparison and reasoning! So even if it does not work out the way it’s supposed to give it a go!

Thank you for reading us!

Teri & Teddy



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