Van Gogh Sunflowers Art Lesson

A perennial favorite…what student can go through elementary school without completing his own version of Van Gogh’s Sunflowers? I usually do a collection of Sunflowers in oil pastel, but decide to try out a tempera paint version instead.

Here’s what we did:
Using an oil pastel, students drew a vase, table line and the flower centers. I demonstrated this step first and gave all sorts of examples to encourage students to create a vase and flowers unique to them.
Then, students painted the “tables” in one color and the background in another color. For simplicity, I set out two colors. You may not choose to limit the kids this way, though.
This usually marked the end of our first lesson (approx. 45 minutes). For the next step, I set out an assortment of paints and demonstrated how to blend paint using the double-load technique. (dip paint brush first in one color and then another. Mix directly onto paper).
After painting the leaves and petals, children painted their vase and added shadows and hi-lights. Some children added shadows to the table as well. For a final flourish, the children opted to outline their lines with black or white paint or not at all. I left that decision up to them.

This lesson is available in my store. Handouts and full photo-tutorial included.


Second and Third Grade Sunflowers


  1. Still Life With Coffee says:

    This is beautiful. I've been a little sunflower crazed myself these days. :-) Love your blog so much!

  2. diditeach says:

    That was beautiful to look at on a Friday evening after a busy week at school…..I know what I will be trying next week, LOVE sunflowers. Thanks for sharing !

  3. School for Us says:

    Those look incredible! I'll have to give it a try with my daughter. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Kathleen says:

    Great blog! Happy I found it =) Off to share the fun with my homeschooling daughter!

  5. Bright Ring says:

    Hi, I am the author of many books about art for kids. I'd like to invite you to come to my blog and see what I posted about YOUR blog! I hope you like what I have shared, about your Van Gogh work! On my blog, I tell my followers about my favorite art blogs, as well as other wonderful surprises I find. Hope you can stop by! ~ MaryAnn F. Kohl, art author
    My blog:

  6. [...] I try to do every year with my third grade students. Sometimes my medium varies. A year ago I tried tempera painted flowers and I loved the results. I even made it into a PDF art lesson so you can see exactly how I taught [...]

  7. [...] Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this. This entry was posted in Idea Links on October 1, 2012 by murdockartdocents. [...]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

About Patty

I teach art to 400 school children in Goleta, California. My art library contains hundreds of free art lesson ideas. My shop has art lesson plans, videos and resources to help you teach art to kids. It's a whole lot easier with Deep Space Sparkle.

Art Lesson Categories