Expressionism Portraits: Alexei Jawlensky inspired- Grade Prep art lesson

This art lesson is suitable for Prep students (adaptable to Year 1 & 2) and I loved the way the artworks turned out. The use of colour is stunning! It will take 2-3 lessons depending on the class time allotment. I have hour lessons, so two and a bit of the next lesson gave enough time to discuss, explore, reflect and share.

Alexei Jawlensky (born 1864, died 1941) was a Russian Expressionist painter, (moved to Germany in 1896 and was a founding member of the New Munich Artist’s Association.) He is known mostly for his portrait art of heads and the use of bold, contrasting colours and strong directional brushstrokes.

The students viewed artworks by Jawlensky, describing what they saw, discussing use of colour, style of art, feelings conveyed.

‘Head’ 1910 by Alexei Jawlensky, pictured left, could be used on a platform like Seesaw for students to record their description and thoughts about the artwork, which can be used to assess the achievement standard at Level F in the Victorian Curriculum: “Students identify and describe the subject matter and ideas in artworks they make and view.”


To learn about Russian artist Alexei Jawlensky so I can use the ideas to make my own portrait.

To identify and describe subject matter and ideas in artworks.

To explore and use techniques and materials with water soluble pastels and chalk pastels to express my observations and ideas.


I can describe an artwork, talking about the subject matter, elements of art, like colours, feelings conveyed.

I can draw a portrait of my face (head and shoulders) using a mirror to copy my features.

I can use bold colours on my self-portrait in the style of Alexei Jawlensky.

I can colour in patches of bold colours with water soluble pastels on my portrait and then use water to brush over to give a painterly effect. I can use chalk pastels to add colour to the background, blending and and smudging.


After discussing and describing Jawlensky’s portraits, students use a mirror to draw their face. To get them to draw their head big enough, I got them to put their hand a bit above the middle of the paper and draw bigger around it. Some students used a face template to trace around to get the size. We look at the position of eyes, being half way on their face, top of ears in line with top of eyes, bottom of nose in line with bottom of ears, etc. Everything is done in pencil first, so they can retry if necessary. We traced over our pencil line with a black ‘Prockey’ marker (permanent and waterproof).

Next lesson, students use chalk pastels on the side edge to gently lay down colour to then blend with fingertips (of course there are always some who get excited and use their whole hand or even both!)

Students then use water soluble pastels to colour contrasting colours (discussing and showing examples of what contrasting colours are) to colour “patches” or areas of colour on the face. Water is brushed is over the pastel areas to smooth out the colour, giving it a painterly effect.

For students at this age, they can reflect on their artwork by sharing with others or describing their piece on a platform like Seesaw.

Abstract Expressionism Portraits: Year 4 art lesson. Marten Jansen inspired

Students  view and describe portraits made by Jansen, discussing use of colour ,line, shape. View more info:


To learn about the Dutch artist Marten Jansen and his style of portraits

To explore using colour, shape and line to make an abstract Jansen  style portrait.


I can use describe the elements of art in a Marten Jansen portrait.

I can describe the artwork of Marten Jansen – colour, style, line, shape, mood.

I can use colour, line and shape to make a portrait in the style of Marten Jansen .


Students view portraits by Marten Jansen. I just used “head shots”; some of his pieces are not suitable to use in primary school, eg. ‘Street walker’, ‘Solicitation’ for obvious reasons (Check out his work here:

Discuss different colour combinations to show emotion or create a mood. List and describe the elements of art used. Talk about various lines used (thick, thin, long, short), shapes (circle, triangles, organic shapes) and colour.

They could annotate one of his pictures individually, in a small group, or as a class.

Students work from a photo of themselves to make a line drawing. (I took photos of the students, edited them on Photoscape (like Photoshop) to change it into a line drawing, and then printed them on A3 cartridge paper. They then use colours, lines and shapes to fill it in using chalk pastels, (we used square blocks) using the edge, tip, side to produce various thickness and intensity of line. Blocks of colour can be used too, especially in the background.

Students  reflect on their completed artworks.

WWW EBI (What Went Well / Even Better If ) Reflection Questions:

Did I fill the paper, leaving only a little or no empty/white space?

Did I use a variety of line thickness?

Did I use some shapes- geometric / organic?

Are the colours generally sharp, only blended or smudged in areas for an effect?

ANZAC soldier silhouettes: Year 5-6 art lesson

This lesson requires careful cutting out for the silhouette soldiers for it to look effective. I printed out pictures of ANZAC soldiers from the internet that would be suitable as silhouettes (on A3 paper). Students cut out the ‘positive’ shapes of the soldiers to be left with the ‘negative’ background to use like a stencil for the silhouette.

Learning Intention:

To make a commemorative ANZAC day picture with silhouettes of ANZAC soldiers.


I can carefully cut out shapes of ANZAC soldiers from a printed out /photocopy picture of ANZAC soldiers.

I can use the negative shape as a stencil to paint in the shapes of the soldiers.

I can use chalk pastels to fill in the background around my soldier shapes, blending and smudging colours.

ANZAC SOLDIERS- Guided drawing + expressive emotion: Year 1-2 art lesson

Year 1-2 Art lesson for ANZAC day

The 25th April is ANZAC day, when we commemorate and remember the sacrifice of soldiers who fought in the First World War. This 2 minute youtube video explains ANZAC day for children to understand.

Learning Intention:

To draw an ANZAC soldier showing emotion.

Success Criteria:

I can follow a guided or instructed drawing the draw an ANZAC soldier’s slouch hat, head, shoulders and part of uniform, adding a face that expresses an emotion felt by a soldier in the War.


Read a story book to the children about ANZAC soldiers, suitable for young children, such as one of the following:

My Grandad Marches on ANZAC Day by Catriona Hoy & Benjamin Johnson,

ANZAC Ted by Belinda Landsberry,

ANZAC Biscuits by Phil Cummings & Owen Swan,

Simpson and his Donkey by Mark Greenwood.

There are many other beautifully written and illustrated picture story book that will help young children understand this important part of Australian history, whilst focussing on aspects of courage, friendship, honour and loyalty.

After sharing one of these ANZAC stories (youtube has many of these books read aloud) discuss with the children some of the feelings and emotions soldiers would have felt at different times. For example, lonely, missing their family or loved ones; frightened and scared that they may die or get wounded, sad, when a mate dies; etc.

Children follow a guided drawing following along step by step to draw the slouch hat, the shape of the face, neck, shoulders and shirt pockets etc. They then think about which emotion they want to show on their soldier’s face. Children could use a mirror to “try on a face” to get the right expression or examples could be drawn on the white board.

I mixed up a khaki coloured paint to paint in the hat and uniform; the face is food dye (red, yellow & a tiny bit of blue) mixed to make a skin colour.

Another example is to use pastels. The following portraits were made to be a design for a commemorative stamp, done by Year 2’s

AUTUMN BIRCH TREES: Elizabeth St Hilaire inspired – Year 5/6 art lesson

Painted paper collages of ‘Fall’ birch trees by Elizabeth St Hilaire were the inspiration for these mixed media artworks by Year 5 students. The process we used was different than that of St Hilaire, though I got the students to suggest what materials and techniques they think were used by her.

Elizabeth St Hilaire was born and raised in New England, USA and has lived in Florida for more than 20 years. She makes collages from painted, found and hand made papers, which she tears and collages to make her amazing textured and patterned artworks of landscapes, trees, animals, flowers, birds and portraits. St Hilaire does an underpainting first then uses swatches of painted and found paper in matching colours to glue over the top, giving her work a painterly finish, with the texture of a collage. We used a different process, painting the collaged newspaper after it was stuck down. For this project we looked at her Autumn (Fall) Birch trees for inspiration.

Learning Intention & Success Criteria:

To make a mixed media artwork of Autumn birch trees in the style of Elizabet St Hilaire.

I will learn about artist Elizabeth St Hilaire and view her artworks of Autumn (Birch) trees and how she shows texture and perspective in her artworks.

I am learning about PERSPECTIVE and TEXTURE so I can use collage and painting techniques to resemble  Birch tree trunks.

I can tear and glue down overlapped newspaper to cover a piece of A3 paper.

I will use masking tape to make some trunks thin, some thicker to give the illusion of depth and perspective. I can use scraped and dabbed black paint to give texture. I can choose and blend colours and emphasize texture in the Autumn background.

I can analyse artworks by Elizabeth St Hilaire by noting materials, process and elements of art.


First of all students look at the Birch tree artworks by Elizabeth St Hilaire to infer the materials and techniques. For example: Materials: paint, paper: newspaper, sheet music, painted paper, glue, etc. Techniques: tearing, overlapping, gluing, painting, collage, outlining, etc.

This is a video of an interview with St. Hilaire explaining her process and collage techniques:  and this one: “A peek into my Process”: demonstrates how she goes about an artwork.

Elizabeth St Hilaire: “A peek into My Process” –

Our Process: (different from St Hilaire)

Collage the entire page with torn newspaper. Brush over with ‘Modge Podge.’

Use masking tape of varying widths to make the tree trunks from top to bottom of the page with some thin branches off the side.

Use Autumn colours to paint the background- could be in layers or mixed all over.

Use a thin brush to paint black paint along the edges of the tree trunks. Using the edge/side of a card, scrape paint inwards along the edges of the trunks to give tone and texture of a birch tree trunk.

Students evaluate their work with a rubric:

NAMES- Jasper Johns inspired- Year 3-4 Art lesson

Jasper Johns is an American born (1930) artist (painter, sculptor, printmaker) who made artworks were about icons of everyday life including motifs and symbols like the American flag, a target, numbers and the alphabet. He often used stencilled letters and numbers.

For this art lesson, done with Year 3/4’s we looked at his artwork, ‘Alphabet’ with it’s continuous sequence of letters to fill the paper. Interestingly this artwork is only about A4 paper size. We made our artwork on A3 size paper.

Jasper Johns



Paper on Hardboard

30.5cm x 26.7cm

Students folded their lengthways twice, to give four columns, then twice the other way to end up with 16 rectangles (4 rows of 4). Firstly they write the letters of their name in grey lead continuously and repeated until the rectangles on the paper are filled, so it does not matter how short or long your name is. Next oil pastels were used to to go over parts of each letter, until all the grey lead is covered and the letters are thick.

We used food dye “wash” to brush over each section for an oil pastel resist. I have containers with diluted food dye at the ready in my art room as we use it a lot for things like adding backgrounds to artworks- quicker than painting!

Primary Colours- Alexander Calder inspired ipad art – Year 1

LEARNING INTENTIONS: To learn about the Primary Colours To learn about line and shape To learn about the artist Alexander Calder

SUCCESS CRITERIA: I can use the primary colours in a digital artwork. I can use various lines and ORGANIC shapes in an artwork. I know that Alexander Calder made artworks and mobiles that often used primary colours.

This lesson uses the Brushes App to make a digital artwork. We looked at Alexander Calder’s paintings and discussed the colours, lines and shapes used. We looked at the colour wheel to identify the primary colours.

LINES: curved, loopy, wavy, straight SHAPES: rounded and organic, circles

Students opened Brushes App to start a “new painting”. I showed them how to find or edit a ‘brush’ so they had a smooth stroke and choose black to draw various lines and some shapes inspired by Calder’s work.

They then need to add a layer (this will need to be demonstrated) Primary colours: red blue and yellow, are chosen to colour in the shapes and maybe add a shape, spiral, or line.

The outline layer is dragged on top of the colouring in layer.

Calder inspired iPad art- Brushes App

Photo Montages: David Hockney style “joiners” ipad art lesson- Year 5/6

Remote teaching and learning called for some lessons that would be easily done at home with little equipment, just an ipad and a good eye! My students all have ipads, so I devised some art and photography lessons based on David Hockney’s “joiners” or photo-montages that he did in the 1980’s.

Hockney first experimented with photo collages mainly using polaroid photos in grid compositions. Later he used prints of 35mm photographs and created collages with many photos joined and overlapped to recreate the overall scene. Hockney was interested in showing the passing of time (photos were taken over a number of minutes) and often show slightly different perspectives of the subject. There is a cubist style about his joiners as they explore movement as well as fractured parts of a whole.

This was a great unit for the students to use photography, but also learn about an amazing artist. I did lessons where the students had to research David Hockney, view his photo-collages to understand the techniques he used to make them, analyse a chosen work and compare two of Hockney’s photo joiners. Then of course some lessons of actually taking photos and arranging them in Pic Collage. Here is a couple:


Learning Intention: To take photos of an object / outdoor scene in parts to be able to arrange together in a grid and freestyle format to re-create the whole object or scene. Success Criteria: I can take photos of an object / outdoor scene in sections, by zooming in and moving my camera along in lines to take a photo of each part (slightly overlapped) I can arrange the photos into a grid & freestyle format using Pic Collage so it reassembles the whole object /scene.

First lesson I introduced the students to David Hockney’s photo-collages which he termed “joiners”, explaining the two types- which I called ‘grid style’ (which his polaroid photos) and ‘freestyle’ where he overlapped and joined the photos. First you need to choose a household object to photograph (teapot, pot plant, clock, large toy, chair etc.) I demonstrated on a video how to photograph an item in sections: 3×3 (9 photos) with an ipad and then using those photos to arrange in the PicCollage app into a ‘grid’ format and then a ‘freestyle’ format. Here are some student examples:

Another lesson was to do a freestyle collage of an outdoor scene, like their backyard, the front of their house, the street, a park or playground. For this one they could do more photos, but they still need to take them carefully moving the camera along and then down to the next row. It doesn’t matter if the edges of the collage are uneven.


I have a 7 lesson /activity Unit Plan on TpT that I did all by remote with my Year 5-6 students. The students had their own ipad and I used Seesaw to post activities and they used their ipad to take photographs and make the collages. I have included a link to a home made video demonstration (amatuer, but it did the job!) of how to photograph an object and make a joiner collage in grid and freestyle using Pic Collage. Each lesson has the Learning Intentions and Success Criteria. This is the lesson sequence that I did: David Hockney Photo Joiners_7 Art & Photography Lesson Unit Plan

  • Lesson 1: Digital Artist Poster (research and present)
  • Lesson 2: Analyse a Hockney Joiner
  • Lesson 3: Hockney style self-portrait joiner (freestyle)
  • Lesson 4: Artwork Comparison (Venn Diagram)
  • Lesson 5: Photo- collages (grid and freestyle) of an object (Pic Collage)
  • Lesson 6: Photo- collage of an outdoor scene (freestyle-overlapped ‘joiner’) Pic Collage
  • Lesson 7: Reflection of learning & Kahoot Challenge (link given)

Complementary coloured Candy Hearts- Year 3/4

Learning Intention: To use shape and colour to make a candy heart with a positive message and a complementary coloured background.

Success Criteria: I can draw a heart with a positive message inscribed inside the shape. I can add a shadow line to give it a 3D appearance. I can use a darker colour value to use on the sides. I can use the complementary colour for the background.

This lesson was done earlier this year before Coronavirus lock downs became something we had to endure here in Melbourne for many months. The messages certainly resonate now as we wait to see if shops, restaurants and bars can reopen and if we can socialise with friends.

The students used chalk pastels for the heart shape, darker on the edges. The background is food dye wash.

One Point Perspective (Bedroom)- Year 5-6 Art lesson

When we had to go to remote teaching last term, I had to throw out my planned lessons as they required too many “special materials” that students would not have handy at home. So it got down to, “What materials are easily accessible for all students at home?” Greylead and coloured pencils and copy paper! So I knew it would involve drawing and needed to be about learning new concepts and skills as well. I usually do some sort of one point perspective art in the senior years, so this was the perfect opportunity.

I broke down the tasks with video and powerpoint demonstrations of the key points about perspective- horizon line, vanishing point and converging lines, followed by simple Seesaw activities to show understanding of the basics. (Oh how I love the Seesaw app!)

Activity instructions were: Show each of the following on the photos using a coloured mark or line: A red dot for the vanishing point. A blue line for the horizon. Green lines for converging perspective lines. Drag each word to label the items.

The next lesson was to get students to practise drawing using a horizon line, vanishing point and converging lines, using basic shapes above and below the horizon line with a video demonstration.

We looked at on of the most famous paintings of a bedroom- ‘ Bedroom in Arles’ by Vincent Van Gogh and used the converging lines on some of the furniture to estimate the Vanishing Point (and therfore horizon. (Some of the lines are a bit out, but Van Gogh was probably working by eye!

The focus of the next lesson was to start drawing the basic geometric shapes that will become bedroom furniture. They uploaded their draft to Seesaw for me to check them, and for some I needed to draw some lines on their draft to show what to do, or where to draw, as well as explain- (when in the classroom you can just point it out while they are working on paper!)

Once their draft with shapes was checked, they were able to go ahead and add details, add to the shapes to make them into furniture and accessories in a bedroom, like their own.

Video of three bedrooms drawn on Brushes App demonstrating the use of vanishing point, basic end shape and converging lines.