Visual Arts: Acrylic Painting

Grade Level: 5-12
Duration: Eight 45 minute class periods
Media Type: Acrylic paint
Subject Integration: Science, Social Studies, Art History
National Standards for Visual Arts: (see bottom of page)
Objectives: Students will create their own acrylic painting after being inspired by various local artists.

Students will create their own acrylic painting after viewing artwork by local Minnesota artists: Adam Swanson, Ta-Coumba Aiken, Scott Murphy, and
Sarah Brokke. Students will show influence / inspiration in their work. Students will show accurate color mixing of secondary colors.
(Helpful website for writing rubrics)


0 - little evidence of inspiration or relationship to artists shown, artwork not complete
1 - some evidence shown of inspiration or relationship to artists shown, but major lack of concepts overall
2 - evidence shown of inspiration or relationship to artists, paint choices mixed well (primary and secondary), subject matter clearly understood
3 - Evidence shown of inspiration or relationship to artists, paint choices mixed well, subject matter clearly understood, quality work shown
4 - Above, plus exceptional use of detail and application of all techniques clearly used

Materials and Procedure:

  • acrylic paint (red, yellow, blue, black, white)
  • paint brushes
  • water / water containers
  • canvas by the yard
  • stretcher boards
  • heavy duty staple gun / staples
  • paper plates for mixing paint
  • permanent markers for writing names on back of work

Day 1:
Show students PlayList clips of local painters. Discuss. “What did you see?” “Which artist(s) could you relate to?” “Whose artwork ‘spoke’ to you?” Which art materials did you see used?” “What else did you notice about these artists?”

PlayList links:

Adam Swanson - Painter
Ta-Coumba Aiken
Scott Murphy - Painter

Students will write down the name of the artist that inspired them, and then write a little bit about that artist in relation to what they saw in the video clip.

Day 2:
Students will sketch an idea of what they would like their final painting to look like. Students will record colors they would like to use (mix on their own with primary colors), and any other ideas they may have.

Day 3:
Students will stretch a canvas with a stretcher frame and canvas fabric. Students will use a heavy duty staple gun to attach the canvas to the frame. Students will put their name on the back of the stretched canvas. Students will gesso the front of their canvas. Canvas will need to dry overnight.

Day 4:
Students will sketch (with pencil) their idea right onto the gesso’ed canvas.
Students will begin to paint.

Day 5:
Students continue painting.

Day 6:
Students continue painting.

Day 7:
Students finish painting (depending on grade level and size of work).

Day 8:
Class critique. Finished work is critiqued by entire class. Students are given two “glows” and two “grows” in relation to their finished work. How could this student’s work grow? What could he/she have made stronger? What did this student truly excel at? What are this student’s strengths in relation to their painting?


  • critique
  • acrylic
  • gesso
  • canvas
  • stretched canvas
  • stretcher boards
  • inspiration
  • relationship
  • local
  • sketch
  • balance
  • texture
  • color
  • line
  • value
  • primary colors
  • secondary colors
  • glow vs. grow
  • detail


PlayList video clips, slides of artists’ work to show while students are generating ideas.


  • Art: A World History [Paperback]
  • 200 Projects to Strengthen Your Art Skills: For Aspiring Art Students (Aspire Series) [Paperback], Valerie Colston (Author)
  • Art: Over 2,500 Works from Cave to Contemporary [Hardcover], Andrew Graham-Dixon (Author)
  • The Collins Big Book of Art: From Cave Art to Pop Art [Hardcover], David G. Wilkins (Author)

National Standards for Visual Arts:

Content Standard #1: Understanding and applying media, techniques, and processes
Achievement Standard:
Students know the differences between materials, techniques, and processes. Students describe how different materials, techniques, and processes cause different responses. Students use different media, techniques, and processes to communicate ideas, experiences, and stories. Students use art materials and tools in a safe and responsible manner.

Content Standard #2: Using knowledge of structures and functions
Achievement Standard:
Students know the differences among visual characteristics and purposes of art in order to convey ideas. Students describe how different expressive features and organizational principles cause different responses. Students use visual structures and functions of art to communicate ideas.

Content Standard #3: Choosing and evaluating a range of subject matter, symbols, and ideas
Achievement Standard:
Students explore and understand prospective content for works of art. Students select and use subject matter, symbols, and ideas to communicate meaning.

Content Standard #4: Understanding the visual arts in relation to history and cultures
Achievement Standard:
Students know that the visual arts have both a history and specific relationships to various cultures. Students identify specific works of art as belonging to particular cultures, times, and places. Students demonstrate how history, culture, and the visual arts can influence each other in making and studying works of art.

Content Standard #5: Reflecting upon and assessing the characteristics and merits of their work and the work of others
Achievement Standard:
Students understand there are various purposes for creating works of visual art.
Students describe how people's experiences influence the development of specific artworks. Students understand there are different responses to specific artworks.

Content Standard #6: Making connections between visual arts and other disciplines
Achievement Standard:
Students understand and use similarities and differences between characteristics of the visual arts and other arts disciplines. Students identify connections between the visual arts and other disciplines in the curriculum.

Funding for this program is provided by the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund. Click here for more information or visit the Minnesota Legacy website.

Clean Water, Land & Legacy Amendment