Diner Display Case Paintings - Inspired by Wayne Thiebaud

Lesson Plan, Grades 8-12, Art, Painting


Lesson Plan and Artwork by Nadine Dresbach

In this lesson students will use acrylic paints and brushes to create Wayne Thiebaud-inspired fun and colorful paintings. Combining students individual work when finished will create a Wayne Thiebaud style of "display case" imagery. Students will focus on the artists' use of color, brush strokes, texture and shadow. The American artist born in 1920 focuses on "diner" fun foods such as cakes, pies and ice cream. In this lesson each student will design an 8" x 10" canvas which, optionally, as a class can be displayed as one work of art.


  • Students will study the artist Wayne Thiebaud and the history of his work. They will study his style and use of color texture and shadow.
  • Students will work individually and collaboratively to create a finished piece of work.
  • Students will experiment with various brushes to create desired effects.

Supplies Needed

Royal Brush® Artist Acrylic Paint Set, Assorted Colors, 75 ml., Set of 12
Royal Brush® White Taklon Paint Brushes, Assorted Sizes, Set of 5
Royal Brush® Golden Taklon Paint
Brushes, Assorted Sizes, Set of 5
Fredrix Value Series Cut Edge Canvas Panels, 8"x10", Pack of 25
*Here are the supplies needed for this lesson plan for reference. Find a convenient carousel of shoppable products for this lesson below.


Standard #2: Organize and develop artistic ideas and work.
Standard #5: Develop and refine artistic work for presentation.
Standard #7: Perceive and analyze artistic work.
Standard #11: Relate artistic ideas and works with societal, cultural and historical context to deepen understanding.



Subject matter: After studying the artist's work, students may all choose to do the same subject or the teacher may wish to break the class up into groups so that they will have "sections" of each subject matter (for example: a row of pies, a row of cakes).


It is highly recommended the students all bring in a piece of cake or pie for the teacher (so that they can have subject matter to observe).


If step two is not feasible, students will look at photographed work and the work of the artist in order to create a layout on their canvas in pencil.


A paper template is recommended for the plate image so that all students in the class will have the same plate size for the final display.


Students will use brushes and acrylic paints to complete their finished painting. This is a wonderful opportunity for students to experiment with various brush shapes and sizes to create the desired effect since Wayne Thiebaud uses the brush strokes to emphasize the surface of the object.


After drying, artwork canvases can be hung in "display case" fashion.