How to make a sunflower watercolor painting

Watercolor Sunflower Resist Art Lesson




How to make a sunflower watercolor painting spring art lesson

I tend to revert to flowers as the subject of my art lessons near the end of the school year.  They provide an opportunity to explore a wide color palette and endless shape possibilities. For my first grade class, I read the book, Camille and the Sunflowers by Laurence Anholt and then we dove into the lesson.

Camille and the Sunflowers literature book recommendation for van gogh sunflowers

This is what we did:

Starting with a 12″ x 18″ sulphite drawing paper, draw a letter “U” for the vase. Some children made a different shape for their pot or vase and that is fine. Next, draw a table line by starting on one side of the paper, hopping over the vase, then continuing the line to the other side.

With oil pastel (either just black or multiple colors) draw a large circle somewhere above the vase. Add petals. Draw a flattened circle or an oval close by and add petals to that flower center. Show different examples of petals on the white board so kids don’t get stuck drawing just one style. You can also place Van Gogh’s Sunflower painting near the front so the children can observe the shape of his sunflowers. Take notice that some of Van Gogh’s flowers have no petals at all.

How to draw a sunflower in a pot

Color the flower centers and petals with oil pastels. It’s okay if the child leaves white spaces but encourage them to color as best they can. For areas where they want the white to remain, use white oil pastel (this is typical for the vase). Once the flowers are colored in, the children can draw the top of the vase and add stems.

Painting with liquid watercolors van gogh sunflowers spring art lesson

Using 2 colors of liquid watercolor, paint the top part of the paper with one color of paint. Then paint the table with the other color.  Paint directly over the flowers. You may notice that the watercolor paint will soak into the paper. You will want to demonstrate how to brush back and forth but not going over the same area more than once or else the paper will rip. If the paper does rip, simply wait until the paint is dry and tape oblong the back.

watercolor sunflowers van gogh spring art lesson

For an added touch, set out a tray of colored tissue paper and some white school glue (I like to mix my white school glue with some water and place in a cup along with a brush for application). The children invented their own ways to decorate their flowers: some rolled the tissue paper into tiny balls and made “seeds” while others added shapes to their vases.

watercolor sunflowers van gogh inspired spring art lesson for kids

No art curriculum is complete without a Van Gogh Sunflower art project and this one is a perfect level for first grade.  Aren’t they all beautiful and unique?

watercolor-sunflowers-gallery van gogh inspired spring art lesson for kids

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  • Kristen

    What a colorful art lesson. I love how you had the kids draw a U shape for the vase – how smart. Thank you for helping me be better blogger and art teacher to my children!

  • Sherry

    Why did you water down the glue? How did that make ths a better work of art?

    • Patty Palmer

      It makes the glue easier to apply.

  • Dianne Schuring

    I love this idea! I was looking for some ideas for art and this is perfect! Sunny and bright! Thank you!

  • Amber

    I did this project with my 12, 8, 6, and 2 year old this morning and we all had such a good time with it. We left off the tissue paper and did them on 8.5×11 paper and we’re about to laminate them we we can use them as placemats for the summer. Thanks for such a cheery and engaging project for all of us!

  • Lavern

    Attractive element of content. I simply stumbled upon your
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  • Beth Lindvall

    Thank you so much for this idea!! I just did this with my students today (1st-2nd) and they loved it!! I let them choose what kind of flowers they wanted to do and they turned out so cute. I also enjoyed tying it into a discussion about why the watercolors resisted the oil pastels. Thank you again!

  • Susan M Rivadeneyra

    fun projest

  • gina barghini

    Please send the watercolor resist sunflowers the free download wasn’t working. Thank you

    • Bethany

      Hi Gina! You’re right! I alerted tech support and they’ll fix it. Sorry for the trouble! It’ll be fixed soon.

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