we help adults teach art to kids

Van Gogh Sunflower Art Lesson in Oil Pastel

Van Gogh’s famous Sunflower series is one of the most recognizable art subjects in a classroom. My students loved the flexibility of drawing sunflowers and enjoyed the opportunity to create many types of flowers. Using oil pastel to color is a mess-free choice, although not nearly as “fast” as paints.

Drawing with Oil Pastels

The children start off with an 12″ x 18″ light blue colored paper. If you don’t have lengthy art classes, I suggest you trim the paper to a 10″ x 15″ size. A bit more manageable for artists who need longer to color their work.
I instruct the kids to draw the vase first (sides and bottoms only) then the centers of the flowers. Some centers are round, some are oval, some are little balls. The petals, leaves and stems come next. Last is the table line.
Using a variety of oil pastels (I don’t limit them to the colors Van Gogh uses) the kids color away. This takes time and I keep encouraging the kids to color all the blue paper away. This takes some prodding for some kids who want to finis fast, but this lesson really looks wonderful when the kids put in the effort. The last stage 9and some of my students take a while before reaching this stage ) is to add a black line around every petal, leaf, flower center, and vase. Worth it, I think!

More Van Gogh Art Lessons:


Van Gogh Landscapes

Painted Van Gogh Sunflowers



  1. I was searching for a lesson that used VanGogh’s sunflowers for inporation and stumbled across your blog. I LOVE all of your ideas and projects and was immediately inspired to teach this lesson to my third graders and they loved it. The artwork turned out beautiful and I was impressed with the high level of success. Thank you for this site and for sharing your lessons.


    November 12, 2008

  2. Hi Joy!
    Welcome to Deep Space Sparkle. Glad you like the projects. Most of them come from sources off the internet, from art teachers like you.
    Personally, it helps me to have all my lessons formatted, but I’m glad it’s helpful and inspiring for others.
    If you have lessons to share…please send a link or give a brief description.
    We could all use more ideas!

    Patty P

    November 13, 2008

  3. Hi! I came across your blog while searching for an art lesson on the net! I think that Van Gogh’s sunflowers would make a great lesson for my kids! We’ll make it tomorrow and I’ll post some of their works in my blog one I find the time. Check out my site at http://handsonarts.blogspot.com most of my posts are art lessons I found in the net though.


    March 15, 2009

  4. What lovely results. I can’t wait to try this with my kids.


    May 4, 2009

  5. How would this lesson be graded? I really like this lesson, but am quite unfamiliar with teaching and grading art, and I am trying to determine how to set up a grading rubric for this lesson. Any help will be greatly appreciated.


    November 22, 2010

    • I don’t have to grade art, so I’m unfamiliar with a standard rubric. Perhaps other teachers might weigh in. Good luck!


      November 23, 2010

      • My art rubrics usually include use of space, use of colour and creativity. The students would know that the background has to be coloured in and a variety of bright colours would be used. Flowers of different sizes would be part of the evaluation.

        Anne Gignac

        March 3, 2012

  6. Hi!
    I love all of your ideas! I stumbled on this one while looking for a lesson on organic shapes to teach my third graders. I can’t wait to get a bouquet of flowers to show students while talking about the different flowers!


    August 30, 2011

  7. I absolutely love this lesson. I have shared it with two different second grade classes so far (my son’s and then my daughter’s). The kids are so impressed with the process and the final product. I stick with just the pastels so I can finish in one 50 minute lesson. I do seem to need to let them use pencils first though…otherwise I end up with tears or using up way too much extra paper…I used the light blue construction paper and the colors really shine! Quite a few kids picked this as their favorite project out of the entire year of weekly projects! I also read a book about Van Gogh…it is a story book called “Van Gogh’s Sunflowers” and the kids really get into it. Thanks so much for sharing the lesson. I am totally hooked on this site and on teaching art now!! love it!


    March 24, 2014

    • I’m so happy the lesson worked for you! And its even better that the kids loved their work. Good for you…you must have done a great job teaching.
      Thanks for letting me know!

      Patty Palmer

      March 24, 2014

What do you think?

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