Let’s Get Started


Many students have a favourite object. Whether it is a stuffed animal, an action figure, or a toy car (for example Hot Wheels). All students have a “toy” they love and have an emotional or personal connection with. This lesson will give students time to closely examine their favourite object in a still life painting, while at the same time play with perceived sizing.


Students will be instructed a few days before the planned lesson to bring in their object. This will allow for time to ensure all students have their selected piece. As the teacher, have a few small objects on hand as back up, as it is not uncommon for some students to forget, or possibly not have an object they can bring to class.


Note:  Have the example image of Stephen May’s painting Toy Boat on display for the class to see an example of  “larger than life”, where the object they are painting will be ‘floating’ on their paper.

  1. Explain to students not to add detail in the background that would allow the viewer to indicate sizing. The background  can be textured or filled in  with  artistic detailing. (Sponges work great for this.)
  2. Students will now be instructed to place their object on their desk at least a forearm’s distance away from them, for the duration of this activity. This will ensure that their still life drawing is as accurate as possible. The students will be given a small piece of masking tape that they can place under their item to prevent it from moving.
  3. Using a pencil, students will be instructed to quickly sketch out general placement of prominent lines or shapes in their image. (This can be as simple as the placement of their object on the page to give borders and outlines) This is an important step as once they begin to use paint it cannot be removed from the paper.
  4. Once their sketch is complete, (try not to take more then 5-6 minutes as it is just general spacing) they can begin the next step.
  5. Students will be given their paint tray with their spectrum of colours (which varies depending on resources). Be sure to not use too much black as it over powers most colours very easily. Once students have their paint they will begin painting.
  6. Students will be encouraged to paint their image in colours true to life. This means they will need to carefully examine the colours they see and try to replicate them by mixing. This gives them an opportunity to work on colour variety.
  7. Students will be encouraged to add as many details as they can possibly can by really looking at their object.
  8. For students who have completed their assignment they can either swap objects with another student and work on a second image, or select and object from the teacher’s collection.
  9. After all the paintings are complete and dry (probably the next day), students may be asked to present their masterpiece to the class along with their original objects. Students will be encouraged to discuss their peers’ work. An example of a good discussion opener could be:  “One thing I like about this painting is _______.”
  10. Each student can say one nice thing about one other student’s work. This opens art dialogue and encourages art practice.

Tips and Tricks

Sponges – Cheap sponges can be purchased and then cut into smaller pieces so that all students will have a variety or sizes and shapes.

Give students a piece of paper towel to use during the class.