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Museum Home Education Search Lesson Plans All Curricula Art & Language Arts: Ideas for the Classroom Lesson Plans In Depth: Pearblossom Highway
In Depth: Pearblossom Highway

Grades/Level: Upper Elementary (3–5)
Subjects: Visual Arts, English–Language Arts
Time Required: 2–Part Lesson
3 class periods
Author: Roberta Fong, Edison Elementary School, Burbank Unified School District

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Lesson Overview

The California Desert / Cannon

Students compare and contrast a photograph and a photo-collage depicting the same highway. After writing a descriptive composition about both images, they identify one-point perspective in works of art, then draw a desert landscape using one-point perspective.

Learning Objectives

Students will be able to:
• compare and contrast two works of art depicting the same subject.
• write a four-paragraph descriptive composition.
• identify the use of elements of one-point perspective in works of art.
• use one-point perspective in a drawing.


• Reproduction of Pearblossom Hwy., 11-18th April 1986, #2 by David Hockney
• A different image of Pearblossom Highway (official route name is CA-138) available through an Internet search
• Butcher paper
• Images utilizing a clear use of one-point perspective, such as the following:

Street in Saint Pierre, Martinique by an unknown French artist
The Road West / Highway to the West, U.S. 54 in Southern New Mexico by Dorothea Lange
Regatta on the Grand Canal in Honor of Frederick IV, King of Denmark by Luca Carlevarijs

• Drawing paper
• Pencils
• Colored pencils or Prismacolor Art Stix

Lesson Steps

Days 1–2: Comparing Two Images of a Highway
1. Display a reproduction of Pearblossom Hwy., 11-18th April 1986, #2 by David Hockney. Instruct students to take the time to look closely at the work of art, then ask them the questions below. As students describe the different details, list their observations on the board.
• What do you see in this image? What more can you find?
• What do you notice in the background? In the middle ground? In the foreground?
• What else do you notice?

As students describe the different details they see, list their observations on the board.

2. Tell students that this works of art depicts a highway in southern California, CA-138, which is also known as Pearblossom Highway.

3. Display another photograph depicting the same highway and repeat step 1. Begin a new column on the board and list students' observations about this second image.

4. Have students work with a partner to compare and contrast the two photographs depicting Pearblossom Highway. Prompt discussion among partners by asking students the following:
• What is similar about the images?
• What is different?
• How do you think the artist made each image?
• Which image looks more true to life? Why?

5. After students share a few ideas with their partners, have each student individually compare and contrast the images on a graphic organizer such as a Venn diagram or Double Bubble Map. Invite students to share examples of similarities and differences between the two images with the whole class.

6. Inform students that Hockney's image is a photographic collage, and provide relevant information about the work of art from the background information available on this Web site (see link in Materials List above). Point out that we can tell that the image is not true to life because some edges around objects in the image do not connect to each other. We can also see the edges around each individual piece of the collage, which reveal that several different images were put together to complete work of art. In addition, in real life, objects that are closer to us appear larger than objects that are far away. In a two-dimensional photograph, this means that objects in the foreground appear larger than objects in the background. In the Hockney image, the "Pearblossom Hwy" street sign is larger than it would be at that distance in real life.

7. Tell students to write a descriptive composition comparing the two images of Pearblossom Highway. Remind students to refer to their graphic organizer for ideas. The compositions should follow the following format:
• 1st paragraph: introduction
• 2nd paragraph: description of Hockney's photographic collage
• 3rd paragraph: description of second image depicting Pearblossom Highway
• 4th paragraph: conclusion

Day 3: Drawing a Desert Landscape
1. On a large sheet of butcher paper, list the following terms and definitions:

  • linear perspective—technique used by an artist to create the illusion of space and depth on a flat surface

  • horizon line—in linear perspective, the line that runs across a work of art where the sky appears to meet the ground

  • vanishing point—in linear perspective, the point on the horizon line where parallel lines (train tracks, roads, etc.) appear to meet

2. Display the reproduction of Hockney's Pearblossom Hwy., 11-18th April 1986, #2. Describe how Hockney creates depth through linear perspective. If using an overhead transparency of the image, use wet-erase markers to draw the horizon line on the overhead. Also draw the vanishing point and lines that meet at the vanishing point. If using a digital image, project the image onto your board and use a marker to draw the lines and vanishing point.

3. Display other reproductions of images depicting one-point perspective. For each image, ask students to take turns highlighting the horizon line, vanishing point, and lines that meet at the vanishing point. You may wish to pass out copies of one image depicting one-point perspective and have each student individually draw the lines and vanishing point and then label them accordingly.

4. Have students revisit their writings comparing the two images of Pearblossom Highway. Tell them to add descriptions about elements of one-point perspective that they can identify in either or both images. Remind them to include the three new vocabulary terms they learned.

5. Pass out pencils and paper. Tell students they will be creating a road through a desert landscape using one-point perspective. Remind students to draw all lines lightly in the beginning and then darken the lines they wish to keep in their final drawing.

6. Ask the class for suggestions of objects and plants that could be found in a desert landscape. Pass out colored pencils or Prismacolor Art Stix and allow students to personalize their desert landscapes as they wish. Remind students to keep the following tips in mind:
• Objects appear smaller as they are farther away. Draw the objects in the foreground bigger than objects near the vanishing point.
• Use overlapping to show objects that are in front of other objects.
• Use more detail when drawing objects that are in the foreground. We see less detail in objects that are farther away.

Pearblossom Hwy. / Hockney
Pearblossom Hwy., 11-18th April 1986, #2, David Hockney, April 11–18, 1986
© 1986 David Hockney


Assess students on their ability to identify the horizon line; vanishing point; and objects in the background, middle ground, and foreground in works of art. Assess each student's work of art based on whether a horizon line and vanishing point is included.

Standards Addressed

Visual Arts Content Standards for California State Public Schools

Grade 3

Artistic Perception
1.3 Identify and describe how foreground, middle ground, and background are used to create the illusion of space.
1.4 Compare and contrast two works of art made by the use of different art tools and media (e.g., watercolor, tempera, computer).
1.5 Identify and describe elements of art in works of art, emphasizing line, color, shape/form, texture, space, and value.

Creative Expression
2.3 Paint or draw a landscape, seascape, or cityscape that shows the illusion of space.

Aesthetic Valuing
4.1 Compare and contrast selected works of art and describe them, using appropriate vocabulary of art.

English—Language Arts Content Standards for California Public Schools

Grade 3

1.0 Writing Strategies
1.1 Create a single paragraph.

2.0 Writing Applications (Genres and Their Characteristics)
2.2 Write descriptions that use concrete sensory details to present and support unified impressions of people, places, things, or experiences.

Listening and Speaking
1.0 Listening and Speaking Strategies
1.3 Respond to questions with appropriate elaboration.

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