painting
K-12EducatorsThe Arts

The Challenge of Painting Realistically – Lesson Plan

Students experiment to better understand the challenges of drawing and painting in a realistic style.

  • Length: 1 or 2 class periods
  • Grades: 9-12

Concepts/Objectives:

  • Students will evaluate challenges to the artist of varied subject matter: self-portrait, still life, landscape, interior scenes.
  • Students will examine the use of varied media.
  • Students will use art terminology to examine artists’ use of varied processes.

Resources Used:
(Found On: Spectrum of Art Part 2: Subject Matter and Genres)
Realism: Landscape
Realism: Self-Portrait
Realism: Still Life

Vocabulary and Handouts

Vocabulary:
charcoal, contrast, grid, landscape, portraiture, realism, still life, value, wash

Specialized vocabulary in video: burnt umber, gesso, grid out, interior scenes, turpentine washes, yellow ochre, underpainting

Handouts:

  • Multiple-Choice Questions
  • Answer Key

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Instructional Strategies and Activities

Ask students to define landscape, portrait, self-portrait, still life, and realism. Introduce the KET video segments by telling students they will be comparing and contrasting the processes and choices of subject matter of several Kentucky realistic painters. Tell them they should keep in mind what the artists say about the difficulties and challenges of the processes they use in their work and any other interesting facts they glean while listening to the artists. They are looking for insights into the creative process of various artists.

Studio Visits
KET’s Looking at Painting series takes viewers to the studios of Kentucky artists. Are there painters in your vicinity who might be willing to open their studios up to students’ visits? Check the Kentucky Arts Council’s Arts Resources for Teachers and Schools for suggestions. Or find out who’s on KET’s weekly arts magazine, Mixed Media. The Mixed Media cameras often take viewers into artists’ studios around the state.

After viewing the KET video segment on “Process,” have students discuss the comments of the artists. Consider what the artists talked about as the difficulties and challenges of the processes they use in their work. Ask: Which form (still life, painting from photos, self-portraiture, etc.) seemed to be the most challenging? Why?

Set up a station for each of the formats in the classroom:

  • a still-life set-up
  • a live model
  • a photograph or photographs of a landscape
  • an interior scene in the classroom.

Have students visit each station in small groups and list the artistic challenges an artist would face in painting each of these subjects realistically.

Lead a class discussion emphasizing art terminology from the video and other art terminology discussed previously.

Additional Activities

  1. Students create and discuss realistic painting.

    Display a simple artifact: a twig, a leaf, an apple. Ask students to try to render the artifact as realistically as possible using simple media such as pencil, pen and ink, colored pencils, crayons, or colored markers.

    Then have students discuss (in class, small groups, or individual writing) their experience and the challenges encountered in trying to achieve a drawing. See whether students using the same artifact encountered the same challenges. What were some of the differentiating factors: previous art experience, media used, attitude toward assignment, fear of failure, confidence in ability to create, etc.? Lead students in using art terminology in talking about the artistic challenges they encountered while exploring process.

  2. Students analyze realistic painting.

    Have students explore the Kentucky Virtual Art Museum or other online sources/museums to find additional examples of realistic paintings. The Looking at Painting online gallery at www.ket.org/painting/gallery is one possible source. Have students view works by other realistic painters of similar subject matter and write a brief critique of the work based on the artistic challenges the painter might have encountered with the subject matter chosen.

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Performance Assessment

Performance Event:
Artists face a variety of challenges in rendering subjects realistically. Students will analyze challenges to artists in several settings.

Directions:
Watch and discuss the video segment on “Process.” Participate in a class activity to view and assess the challenges of a variety of subjects for realistic rendering. Optional: Attempt to render a small object as realistically as possible and note and discuss the challenges.

Performance Scoring Guide

4 3 2 1 0
Student participates in all of the activities. Student can list and discuss 4-6 challenges that an artist might face in rendering a subject realistically. Student participates enthusiastically in classroom discussion and activities and communicates ideas effectively, using appropriate art terminology. Student participates in all of the activities. Student can list and discuss 2-4 challenges that an artist might face in rendering a subject realistically. Student voluntarily participates in classroom discussion and communicates ideas somewhat effectively, using mostly appropriate art terminology. Student participates in all of the activities. Student can list and discuss 1-2 challenges that an artist might face in rendering a subject realistically. Student participates when called upon in classroom discussion and communicates ideas adequately, using somewhat appropriate art terminology. Student participates in most of the activities. Student has difficulty in listing or cannot list any challenges that an artist might face in rendering a subject realistically. Student participates in classroom discussion when called upon but communicates ideas with minimum effectiveness and inappropriate art terminology. Student does not complete the activities.

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