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Van Gogh Flowers Art Lesson

A perennial favorite of mine, Van Gogh inspired flowers is a lesson 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 the lesson. (The PDF includes handouts for the students or for the teacher to use). Following the same steps, I returned once again to oil pastel flowers, which can take longer to color in but boy, is the prep easy.

To start, children drew a vase and then the flowers. We used one color to draw with (preferably a light color oil pastel). It was my intent to have the students chose warm or cool colors to for their flowers. I showed Van Gogh’s Sunflowers and we talked alot about the color wheel, but alas, when I set the trays of beautiful oil pastels on the table, it was extremely hard for the kids to choose just one color palette! No biggie. I’m like them. I prefer lots of colors anyway!

I showed how to draw a few vases and later when we began the coloring, I showed how to add hi-lights and shading. Not every student understood this or took the time to add the shading, but for the ones who did, they did an amazing job.

We colored the flowers first, then the vase, table and background. I asked the students to keep the background simple so that their beautiful flowers stood out.

Outlining their flowers with a dark color, like black, created interest for many students, but others chose not to outline. As always, the students really did a great job.

Note: Take a peek at the top right hand corner of this photo. Notice how the child opposite this finished piece is still working on her flowers. The only problem with this lesson is that it takes some children a long time to complete the coloring. For these kids, I don’t want them to rush, so we put the piece into their portfolio and instead of doing free-choice after another art project, they can return to this piece and finish. I’m sure you all experience the same thing when working with oil pastel!































  1. I LOVED all of the awesome paintings their so cool!!!!!!!!!

    Emmy Bella

    March 1, 2012

  2. I really liked all the class pictuers esspesially chloe’s. My class is doing it today i hope mine turns out as good as yours

    jordyn rose

    March 1, 2012

    • Thanks Megan! The drawing aids do help a great deal for some kids but I know many teachers who use the drawing aids for themselves and then they know how to draw! I love that!


      March 29, 2012

  3. I teach lots of Van Gogh and the students respond very well to his art-they all know and love Starry Night!


    June 1, 2012

  4. I absolutley LOVE this lesson but also smirked a bit when I saw the same frozen dinner trays for oil pastel holders and Trader Joes yogurt cups on the tables. Looks EXACTLY like my art room! Thanks for sharing amazing things and being so inspiring to us all.


    March 31, 2014

    • Thank God for Trader Joes!

      Patty Palmer

      January 10, 2015

  5. Someone talked about purchasing your PDF for this class… does this PDF still exist? I tried to search with no luck… the images and flowers are absolutely stunning, but I was thinking that maybe I would have more luck with hand-outs 😉


    January 10, 2015

    • Hi Jo,
      Thank you so much. This lesson has been a favorite of mine and one that I do almost every year. There is a PDF lesson but it is included in a bundle with two other lessons, which explains why you couldn’t find it. You can click the link above in the first paragraph (I highlighted it for you) or you can go directly to the shop.
      Here’s a link:http://www.deepspacesparkle.com/shop/3-ingredient-art-for-grades-3-4/

      Patty Palmer

      January 10, 2015

  6. What size paper do you recommend for this lesson? I want to use something on the smaller side since coloring with oil pastels usually takes quite a bit of time, but I’m having a hard time deciding what would look good and still help with time.


    July 19, 2015

    • You can try 9 x 12 or even 12 x 15. Both look nice. I’ve done the latter.

      Patty Palmer

      July 20, 2015

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