Each lesson Plan focuses primarily on one of the 4 Cornerstones of Art:
Drawing | Painting | Color | Style


Students will learn and work with alike colors (analogous), and practice simple brush techniques using arcylic paints. A colorful background and bold line-based designs are used for their first painting of the year. The rules are reviewed and explained in more detail.

Grades 3 – 5

Week of August 23 – 27

1 Hour & 45 Minutes

Student Work

more to come

Lesson At A Glance

A brief overview of each step. Buttons jump to each section for detailed information.

10 Minutes – Draw abstract designs

12 Min – Learn analogous colors

10 Min – Discuss class rules

20 Min – Demo on acrylic painting

10 Min – Set up for painting

15 Min – Paint background layer

5 Min – Practice sketching design

15 Min – Paint design on canvas

7 Min – Everyone helps


Each section is a different color. Read over once and then you can SCROLL & TEACH using any device you like. It’s designed to work best with your phone.

STEP 1. Warmup

Students will warmup by drawing abstract designs.
10 Minutes


Students know how practicing helps create better finished artwork.


  • 11″ x 14″ Canvas Board
  • 4B pencil
  • White and kneaded erasers
  • 14″ x 17″ Sketch pad
  • Black oil pastel
All materials are suggestions and may be modified as you see fit. We have tried many items, and these seem to allow the most versatility for the cost.


Have students get out their sketchbooks and open to a blank page.

Each student should place a canvas board on their sketchbook page, in the center (away from all paper’s edges), and trace around the edges with a pencil. This will create the frame that they will use for their sketch.

When tracing a frame, don’t let the canvas board be flush with any edge of the paper sketch pad. Always “float” a practice frame with all 4 (penciled) sides away from the real paper edges. Why? because if one edge is a real edge of the paper, it creates a visual imbalance and will affect the design decisions. It’s almost like an optical illusion.


Today’s warm-up focuses on abstract and made-up (non-objective) designs. Have your students use their 2B pencil and draw a design using lines and shapes in the frame on their sketch book. The lines can be thick, thin, long short, wavy, straight, over-lapping, going off the page, etc. The design should not be recognizable or contain any kind of familiar object, words, symbols, or other imagery. It is pure abstract. Erase and modify the design but keep it simple because we’ll be creating it later using a brush and black paint.

1.3 FILL

Once the pencil version of the design is finished, students can go over the lines and even fill in some solid areas with their black oil pastel.
Advanced Student Lesson
CREATIONS - tap here to open

Our Creations lessons are for students who have completed the two years of Foundations and are ready to begin using all that they have learned to create new work. These more challenging versions of the same concepts and techniques are easily taught along-side students in the Foundations course. This allows for excellent review, and is encouraging for students to see progress from each viewpoint.

Use the Student Instructions printout below to distribute to your Creations students. Tap the image to open the PDF in a new window.

Abstract Painting

Overview: Students will create a background using colors they choose, and then create an abstract line painting using photographic reference as their source.

Use a canvas board, a sheet of taped canvas, or a stretched canvas if available.

Step 1. (15 minutes) Set up for painting in acrylic, and cover the canvas with a thin coat of any colors of your choosing. Brilliant colors work well. Colors may be mixed with water instead of white, for a glaze effect, or white can be mixed in for opacity – colors that look more solid. Set aside to dry.

Step 2. (20 min) Choose a reference source from any book or use the provided PDF photographs below. Use a pencil and sketchpad to create an abstract line drawing based on the photo. You should try to make it different enough so that it’s hard to recognize the subject.

Step 3. (5) Write down some ideas for how color will be used as line and filling in areas. The original underpainting may be covered a lot, or it may show through and be an important element in the painting.

Note: colorful lines and pattern can add a lot of visual interest to this painting.

Step 4. Resume painting, using a variety of Brushes for different effects. Clean edges and lines are much easier to create when the paint is a very fluid.


Tap images to open Creations Student Instructions and Reference Materials in new windows

Use this button to jump down to the preparation section.

STEP 2. Design and Teach

Students will learn about analogous colors.
12 Minutes


Students know what analogous colors are.


  • Color Wheel PDF
  • OR display to show on media device



Color Wheel

You can print one for every student to keep, or just one to put up on the wall.

It’s also possible to connect your device to a display and show the pdf on a larger format.


1 Page – Opens in new window


As students continue to work on their designs, talk about analagous color schemes. Use the printed or screen-displayed PDF color wheel that came with your subscription, to show which colors are next to each other.

“When just a few colors are used for all the most important areas of a painting, that becomes it’s color scheme. Some color schemes are visually loud, because there is a lot of contrast. Red and Green is a “loud” color scheme. Others seem more quiet or calm, because there is not much contrast. These are called analogous colors, or sometimes, alike colors. Alike is easier to remember, and both words begin with the letter A.

Colors that are very close together on a color wheel, color star, spectrum or rainbow, are analogous. Red, red-orange, and orange, for instance. What other analogous color schemes can you come up with using 3 colors?”

Teacher Talk

Read verbatim or paraphrase


Have students suggest colors for analogous, or alike color schemes, and correct if needed. Display Analogous Color Scheme Pinterest board.

Pinterest Gallery: Analogous Color

Use This Link or tap the icon to the left to open our special Pinboard showing examples of artwork to display to your class.


Today, limit students to using ONLY 3 analagous colors that are all next to each other on the wheel. Include one secondary and one or two tertiary colors, but don’t have 2 primary or 2 secondary colors in one scheme. Choosing 3 colors that are not all in one group, (skipping past a color or two), will create a different, more varied color scheme.

This project turns out better looking, if you stick to a close group of alike colors for the background!

Use this button to jump down to the preparation section.

STEP 3. Rules

Students will hear classroom rules.
10 Minutes


Students know the importance of taking care of others, themselves, and their tools.

Students know they have a mixing palette of paint colors.


  • PDF Printouts




Print and put on display for daily reminders.


1 Page – Opens in new window


Go over the rules in-depth with your students. Today you will focus on each rule more in-depth, except for #3 which we covered last week.

1. Not… too… many… rules.

This is funny, but it also makes a point. There are not a lot of rules for art. You either like it or you don’t. If you want to invent a new thing, that can sometimes be really cool. Rules are there to keep people safe and have a good time. Making art is usually pretty fun and safe, so our rules are easy.

2. Be nice!

Everyone knows this rule. But did you know we have 3 ways this rule works?

  • Others – this is what most people think when they hear this rule, and you all know this already.
  • Self – you wouldn’t say, ‘hey that art looks horrible!’ to a friend. So never tell yourself bad things about your own art. You can say something more like, ‘hey that art doesn’t look like I wanted it to. I’ll keep improving though’. Be nice to yourself!
  • Stuff – your brushes will need to be super washed today. All of your materials and the classroom itself, need to be taken care of. Be nice to your art stuff, and it will last much longer *If you’re not in a controlled setting, see teacher talk below.

3. No mistakes allowed.

Remember what that means? If you weren’t here last week, it means that artists never waste their time. Instead of mistakes, we often create artwork that we aren’t happy with, but that we learn from, and we call them learners.

4. You Must Mix your colors.

That sounds pretty easy, and it is. Our set of colors that come from the tube are actually pure pigments, and are not designed to be used right out of the tube. Only white and bright red look good as actual colors in a painting. All others should be mixed with at least some of another color or white, and even the red is usually mixed to make other colors.”

Teacher Talk

Read verbatim or paraphrase

Use this button to jump down to the preparation section.

STEP 4. Demo

Students will learn about acrylic painting.
20 Minutes


Students know how to set up their work area for painting with acrylics.


  • Acrylic paints
  • Brush – small or medium
  • Palette pad
  • Water container
  • Smock
  • Paper towels
  • Scrap canvas

Brushes should be nylon for springiness and durability. Round brushes are the most versatile.

We use the heaviest bodied student grade acrylics we can find (Amsterdam brand). None of the regular colors should have any white or titanium listed in the tube pigments. Titanium white is listed as PW 6, and zinc white is PW 4

Paint pigment list:

  • Napthol or Pyrrol Red
  • Hansa or Light Yellow
  • Pthalo Green (blue shade)
  • Cyan or Cerulean Blue
  • Ultramarine Blue
  • Dioxazine Purple
  • Magenta
  • Burnt Umber
  • Raw Sienna
  • Titanium White (professional grade only)

4.1 DEMO

This is a basic introduction to our 10 colors of acrylic paints and how to use them. You can either learn the demo from the video, so that you can do it yourself, or you can display the video on a larger screen. This is also helpful when you have too many students to see you as you work..

Tap the 4 arrows icon to enlarge the video to full screen.

Review the demo video and demonstrate to your students, or you can simply display the video on a larger screen for them to watch.

Important points in the video:

  1. Double-fold the palette pad cover so it doesn’t pull the glue loose
  2. Squeeze small amounts – the size of a small chocolate chip
  3. Place paint chips along one edge of palette – any order is fine
  4. Today we want just a few bright alike colors but usually you’ll put out all your colors
  5. Practice mix with tiny amounts before making larger paint mixes
  6. Wipe your brush with a paper towel to clean most of the paint off. (wipe/wash/wipe)
  7. Create a string of beads by mixing new colors from half of your current color
  8. You can see a history of what you’ve done
  9. Never, ever, ever (except for bright red) use paint from the pigment tubes without mixing with others
  10. Press down on a brush to bend the bristles for complete coverage of large areas
  11. Use the tip and just a little bending of bristles for doing details, edges, and lines
  12. To make clean edges, line must be in front of the brush tip, not underneath the brush. Sneak up on it.
  13. Never try to write with a brush. Always pull with it. It’s not like a pen or pencil
  14. Make black using Dark Brown and Dark Blue. They are both dark like black and begin with B like black. Use almost twice as much blue as brown with student grade paints. If it’s too brown, add blue; too blue, add more brown. (This has been corrected. It wrongly said use twice as much brown. That won’t work!)
  15. Add white to black to get gray colors
Use this button to jump down to the preparation section.

STEP 5. Set Up

Students will set up for painting
10 Minutes


Students know how to set up their work area for painting with acrylics.


  • Acrylic paints
  • Brushes
  • Palette pad
  • Water container
  • Smocks
  • Paper towels
  • Canvas board



Place all of the wet items on one side. Brushes, water tubs, palette and towels should be on one side so that the artist is not moving a dripping brush or hand over the artwork just to get to things.
Use this button to jump down to the preparation section.

STEP 6. Background Painting

Students will make a background layer for their painting.
15 Minutes


Students know how to successfully choose 3 analogous colors.


  • Acrylic paints
  • Brushes
  • Palette pad
  • Water container
  • Smocks
  • Paper towels


Write name on back of canvas board.


Have students choose 3 analogous colors of their own. It helps if they are all warm, or all cool colors.


3 Large areas. Mix each color and paint a section of the canvas in an area that is about 1/3 of the total. Mix and use all 3 analogous colors that were chosen to cover the entire canvas.

They can be distinct areas or softly blended, but do not blend them very much or you’ll only have one color. You want all 3 colors in their own areas on the canvas.

Technique: Spread the paint as thinly as possible but use enough to have very bright rich colors. For good coverage of the textured canvas, press the brush, bending the bristles and forcing the paint into the entire surface.

Use this button to jump down to the preparation section.

STEP 7. Practice Sketch

Students will practice their design first.
5 Minutes


Students know the importance of practicing before making final artwork.


  • Acrylic paints
  • Brushes
  • Palette pad
  • Water container
  • Smocks
  • Paper towels
  • 14″ x 17″ Sketch pad OR
  • Card stock copy paper


Have each student practice painting their warm-up design on a clean sheet of paper. Only a little bit of the design is needed, just so they can get a feel for how the brush works.

They will use their smallest brush and a black paint mixture with dark blue and dark brown. Be on the lookout for too much brown in the mix. It should be nearly 2 parts blue to 1 part brown, or close to that depending on the brand of paints used. Some paints will need less of the blue, and some will need more.

The amount of water needed will also vary from brand to brand. Many brands have very liquid paint so no water is needed at all.

Move around the room, asking permission to help and encouraging your students.

“While the paint is drying on your canvas, practice your design. This is a good time to simplify the design again, since you’re using the brush.

Add just a bit of water to your paint to make it more flowing if needed.”

Teacher Talk

Read verbatim or paraphrase

Use this button to jump down to the preparation section.

STEP 8. Expression

Students will paint their designs onto their canvas.
15 Minutes


Students know how to finish a painting.


  • Acrylic paints
  • Brushes
  • Palette pad
  • Water container
  • Smocks
  • Paper towels


Help your students take their time, and create the final design on the nearly dry canvas.

It is of utmost importance that they understand the need to change their technique from pressing hard, to using a light touch, and only the tip of the brush.

If anyone is unsure of their design, it is ok to use the canvas pencil (gray colored pencil) to draw a few guidelines first.

“Paint your design again, over the almost dry canvas.

Change your technique though. Where a moment ago you pressed hard with your brush, now you need to use the tip, and have a light touch, like tickling the canvas. By using the tip, you can create lines and clean edges.

It’s ok if things mix up a bit because it’s not quite dry. You can clean any colorful paint from your brush by wiping with a paper towel often. The painting will go faster than you’d think, because the design is so familiar by now. When finished, set aside to dry.”

Teacher Talk

Read verbatim or paraphrase

Acrylic paints can dry to the touch within 15-20 minutes, but will not be fully dry and cured for 24 – 48 hours, depending on the thickness of the paint.
Use this button to jump down to the preparation section.

STEP 9. Cleanup

Everyone helps!
7 Minutes


Students know the importance of cleaning up.


  • Paper Towels
  • Cleaning wipes
  • Sink
  • Waste baskets
  • Well-lit spot for photos
  • Camera or phone-camera


Students set up their work area.

  • Wash hands
  • Super-wash brushes if used
  • Put art supplies away
  • Wipe tables & toss trash
  • Remove any smocks (last)
  • Check for items on floors and tables


Try to get photos of your student’s artwork. Find a good spot for quick lighting without highlights or shadows from your hands and device. Ideally in-between two strong lights on each side.


Make sure you see the kids connect with parents and tell them about the class if you can!


  • Practice and improvement with mixing and using acrylic paints
  • Understanding painting basics. Also alike (analogous) colors and how to mix them
  • Accomplishment in creating a finished canvas
  • Fulfillment in creating an original line-art design and color scheme


Using white paint –  students tend to want to mix white into their paints to lighten them for the background painting. Use water today to create a more brilliant glaze instead.

Not cleaning brushes – This is a critical point, especially for new students. We use the term “Super wash,” and ask students repeatedly, “what will you do when you’re finished painting?” – “Super Wash!”

Missed brushes – Sometimes a student will use more than one brush, and even if they do the brush wipe/wash/wipe and Super Wash at the end of class, they may have missed one or two brushes entirely! Make sure they’ve inventoried all the brushes and take them all for the super wash.

Stray supplies – The last thing every student should do before leaving is to check the work area and the floor for supplies and trash.


Abstract – When artwork doesn’t look very accurate because the artist has changed the real world to fit his or her personal vision. Stylized paintings are just a little bit abstracted, while very abstract paintings can be hard to figure out what the artist was looking at. There are many ranges of abstract in-between these two extremes. For teens: Non-objective is a term used for art that did not have any reference at all, and does not contain recognizable objects. This is sometimes confused as the meaning of an abstract work, but in reality, is just the upper end of abstraction.

• Alike Colors / Analogous Colors – Any 2 or 3 colors that are very close together on the color wheel, and create vivid, in-between colors when mixed together. See the Pinterest board for examples.

• Super Wash – This is an ArtSquish term that helps students distinguish regular water-tub washing, from more thorough sink-washing of their brushes. Without the super wash, a brush with even a residue of acrylic paint in it, will be crunchy and almost un-usable the next day.


Print all of your PDFs from the lesson plan and cut any references apart as needed. If you need a pigment list, use the one below. 

What your room needs

Here are your printable lists and room prep instructions.


Opens in new window


  • Canvas Board
  • Color Wheel PDF
  • Rules PDF
  • Water containers
  • Smocks
  • Paper towels
  • Scrap canvas, for demo


  • 14″ x 17″ Sketch Paper
  • 4B Pencil
  • White Erasers
  • Oil Pastels
  • Acrylic Paints
  • Brushes – all sizes
  • Palette Pad