The Laughing Zebra

Paul Gauguin used bright flat colors in his tropical artwork and is a favorite artist of mine to teach about. I got the idea for this project from a picture I saw on the art blog Painting With a Twist. It looked like something Gauguin himself would have had fun with and I knew my students would too!

First we practiced the palm tree on a scratch piece of paper (since this was the only real difficult part of this whole picture). Once the kids had figured out how to curve the trunk and make the palm fronds we switched to an 11×15 sheet of watercolor paper and redrew the palm tree, then added the background details step by step. I let them fill in the bottom of the picture with their own plants and foliage. Then we outlined everything with Sharpie, and the fun began! The only rule with the paint was to try and paint things as differently from real life as they could. To use their “imagination” like Gauguin did when he painted his pictures. We used vibrant Sargeant brand liquid watercolors. I did this with kindergarten to 6th graders and they all turned out great. With the older kids we added white acrylic paint dots with the end of the paint brush for stars. Below are a few of the kindergarten to 1st grade finished projects. I got busy and didn’t take any pictures of the older kids’ projects.

New step by step Gauguin lesson in my upcoming book. Click here to see more information on my book and subscribe for book updates!

Please refer people back to this site if you use this lesson! 🙂

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