Visual Arts: Still Life

Lesson Plan: Still Life
Grade level: 8-12
Duration: 4-6+ class periods
Media Type: pencil, paint
National Standards for Visual Arts: (see bottom of page)
Objectives: Students create their own still life drawing or painting with various materials / mediums.

(website for help with writing rubrics)


4 - Standards are exceeded
3 - Standards are met
2 - Standards may be met at a very low quality or with some exceptions
1 - Standards are not met

Vocabulary (Visual Arts Elements/Principles):

  • color
  • shape
  • line
  • texture
  • balance
  • unity
  • proportion
  • form
  • value
  • space
  • contrast
  • emphasis
  • movement
  • pattern
  • rhythm
  • blending
  • tint
  • shade
  • light/dark
  • still life

Materials and Procedure:

Day 1:
Discuss the term ‘still life’ and why artists used still life to study objects: look at works by Vincent van Gogh, Paul Cezanne, Henri Matisse, Francisco Goya, Henri Matisse, Roy Lichtenstein, etc. Show the following PlayList videos about Jeffrey T. Larson, Duluth artist. Mr. Larson opened The Great Lakes Academy of Fine Art in September of 2016. This school is located in the newly renovated St. Peter’s Church, overlooking the Duluth harbor in Duluth, MN. Jeffrey T. Larson (5:04) Jeffrey T. Larson (3:18)

Discuss Jeffrey T. Larson’s work:

Discussion Questions:“What did you see?” “What inspires Mr. Larson?” “How does his work make you feel?” “What does the artist’s work remind you of?” “What was the artist trying to show/tell/express to you?”

Now share the work of Italian hyperrealistic artist, Marcello Barenghi. Show the following video: Marcello Barenghi (3:31)

“What did you notice in his work?” “How many tools did he use to create his work?” “Why do you think he creates realistic drawings of everyday objects?”

Next step: Allow students to choose still life items from a plethora of objects. Have each student choose 3-4 objects in which to sketch / study from. Have students sketch preliminary “rough draft” sketches to practice looking at the details of these objects. Discuss how to shade, how to blend, dark/light, etc.

Day 2-3: Continue with still life sketches.

Day 4-6+: Students start final draft of still life drawing/painting. Any drawing / painting materials may be used depending on what is available. Students may sketch with pencil, paint objects with acrylic or tempera paint, and finish lined details with fine Sharpie markers.




National Standards for Visual Arts:

Sample National Visual Arts Standards: More could be covered. See link above.

VA:Cr2.1.6a: Demonstrate openness in trying new ideas, materials, methods, and approaches in making works of art and design.
VA:Cr3.1.6a: Reflect on whether personal artwork conveys the intended meaning and revise accordingly.
VA:Re.7.2.8a: Compare and contrast contexts and media in which viewers encounter images that influence ideas, emotions, and actions.

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.

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