Floating Sunflowers

Lesson Plan, Grades 3-6, Art, Art History, Drawing


Lesson Plan and Artwork by Tana Holdermann Orr

Vincent Van Gogh used sunflowers as a subject in many of his paintings. His use of color, line and shape in his paintings set him apart from most painters of his time. He created vibrant lines applying paint from the tube with his fingers and a pallet knife.


  • Study Vincent Van Gogh’s sunflower paintings.
  • Observe and explore the different forms and shapes of sunflowers in photographs (black & white and color).
  • Learn about shading with graphite pencils, and blending color pencils.
  • Explore warm and cool colors with colored pencils.

Supplies Needed

General’s® Semi-Hex Classic Non-Toxic Graphite Drawing Pencil Set, Assorted Tip, Black, Set of 12
General’s® Charcoal Drawing Set, White/Black, Set of 4 Pencils and 1 Eraser
General’s® Original Charcoal Drawing Pencils, Set of 8
General’s® Multi-Pastel® Chalk Pencil with Sharpener and Project Booklet, Assorted Color, Set of 24
General’s® Tri-Tip Eraser, White, Pack of 24
Sax® Extra Soft Kneaded Latex Eraser, Medium, Gray, Pack of 36
Strathmore® Artagain® 400 Series Paper Pad, 9 x 12 in, Assorted Colors, 24 Sheets
Strathmore® 400 Series Pastel Pad, 11 x 14 in, 80 lb, 24 Sheets


Standard #2: Organize and develop artistic ideas and work.
Standard #6: Convey meaning through the presentation of artistic work.
Standard #8: Interpret intent and meaning in artistic work.



Show students Vincent Van Gogh’s sunflower paintings focusing on his use of color and line.


Collect from books and the internet (if available) pictures of paintings and drawings of sunflowers from other artists and resources. Share with class.


Decide according to the lesson objective and grade, if lesson will be graphite or colored pencils.


Teach students how to use the different gradients of the General® Semi-Hex® or Classic Graphite Drawing Pencils 6B-4H and/or Multi-Pastel Chalk pencils. Students will observe teacher using the variety of methods to shade and blend with both of these materials.


Give students practice paper and have them draw sunflowers with the graphite and/or chalk pencils.


While students are practicing their drawings, discuss organization of the composition modeling a variety of sizes and shapes. Show students how to layer and overlap. Talk about negative and positive shapes.


If chalk pencils are used, have students draw sunflowers in the foreground with warm/hot colors and cold/cool colors for the background.


After students have practiced drawing, use the HB or a 2B, 4B pencil to start drawing their pictures. Students can choose from any General’s® pencils or Multi-Pastel® Chalk Pencil to complete their drawing.


Have students rotate their artwork while drawing to enforce interest and balance in the composition.When completed, composition should be interesting to look at from any angle.