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SUNFLOWERS (Drawing/Painting - Expressionism)


Level: ECE, Primary, Junior, Middle School, High School
Grades: PreK - 12 | Age:all ages | Written by: Andrea Mulder-Slater
[Andrea is one of the creators of KinderArt®]

Students will create expressionistic sunflowers in oil, acrylic or pencil crayon.

What You Need:

Older Students

Younger Students

All Students

What You Do:

  1. Teacher should discuss the sunflower works of van Gogh, Nolde, Rivera and any other artists they feel would be beneficial. Teacher should also discuss sunflowers, why do they look the way they do? how do they grow? when do they grow? Try for loads of information.
  2. Try, if possible to take a class trip to a sunflower field ... or, set up a sunflower still life in the classroom (or home).
  3. Discuss expressionism and the idea of painting with a great deal of emotion, energy and color. Expressionism was influenced by the masks and other arts of native cultures in Africa. Talk about the connection between culture and art. Refer to the work of van Gogh and Emil Nolde.
  4. Have the students plan out their sunflower painting or drawing. Try to use large pieces of canvas or paper (depending on availability).
  5. Once the images have been planned out, its time to lay down color using either oil paint, acrylic paint or pencil crayons. (younger kinderartists may enjoy working with crayons). Refer to the support material at the bottom of this lesson for more "how-to" information.
  6. Be sure to encourage the use of bold strokes of color and energetic lines. Remember, the idea is to not only express how the sunflowers look, but also how they make you feel when you see them.

  7. Once the work is complete, hang it up around the room and ask your kinderartists what they have learned. What did they enjoy the most? the least? How would they do things differently next time? What other subject could be painted in the expressionistic style?

Artists to Study

Vincent van Gogh, (1853-1890), Dutch postimpressionist painter, whose work represents the archetype of expressionism, the idea of emotional spontaneity in painting.

Emil Nolde, (1867-1956), one of the foremost German expressionist painters, whose masklike heads, contorted brushwork, and raw, strident colors were intended to give the viewer a visual and emotional shock.

Diego Rivera, (1886-1957), Mexican painter who produced murals on social themes, and who ranks as one of his country's greatest artists.

Recommended Books/Products:

Camille and the Sunflowers : A Story About Vincent Van Gogh
by Laurence Anholt
The story, based on a true-life incident, is beautifully illustrated in full-color, including reproductions of some of van Gogh's paintings.

by Rebecca W. Atwater Briccetti
Page after page of gorgeous photographs profile the sunflower in all its aspects.

Drawing With Children
by Mona Brookes
Founded on the belief that any child can learn to draw realistic pictures using her "alphabet of shapes" while in a noncompetitive environment, Mona Brookes' easy-to-follow, lesson-by-lesson approach to drawing has yielded astounding results with children of all ages. This is THE BEST learning to draw book we've ever seen. (for ages 3-4 and up)

Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain
by Betty Edwards
Translated into thirteen languages, Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain is the world's most widely used drawing-instruction guide. People from just about every walk of life--artists, students, corporate executives, architects, real estate agents, designers, engineers--have applied its revolutionary approach to problem solving.

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