Watercolor paints, paper, brushes, and other selected tools for watercolors (paper towels, sponges, etc.)
Journals for note taking and sketching
Objects for creating still-life arrangements: pottery, glassware, fruit and vegetables, shells, flowers, etc.
Objects brought to the classroom by students
Images of still-life paintings from the Getty Museum collection. Below are suggested objects for this unit.
Click on thumbnails for brief historical information. Additional research may be added and other works may be substituted.
1. Show images of still-life paintings from the Getty Museum to the class and discuss the artists' choices using prompts such as:
Describe the objects you see in the painting. Talk about how they are arranged. What adjective would you use to describe the
What do you think the objects in the paintings may symbolize? Speculate.
Artists often paint still-life paintings by looking at the actual objects while they paint them. Yet they select and compose
the objects in an artificial setting. Why do you think each artist chose the objects he or she chose? Why do you think the artist
arranged the objects in this way?
2. Ask students to make a still-life arrangement using their own personal objects and those provided in the classroom.
Students should think about the reasons behind their choices and their composition. Ask them to write these reasons down in
their journal for use later in an artist's statement. Post the list of criteria for a still-life painting, which was generated
in Lesson 1, on the wall to guide students in this step.
3. Have students paint their still-life arrangement using watercolor paints. Circulate among students as they work and engage
them in discussion about the challenges posed by the medium and their subject. Through conversation, help them to articulate
their artistic choices.
4. For homework, have students write a rough draft of an artist's statement in their journals. The statement should address
personal and formal (compositional) choices they made while creating their still lifes. The statements should address the
list of criteria for a still-life painting developed in class and also answer the following questions:
1) Why did you choose these objects?
2) What do the objects symbolize for you?
3) Explain why you arranged the objects the way you did.
Students should be able to do the following:
Recognize that artists make personal choices, even when creating realistic artworks.
Use watercolor paints.
Convey an illusion of three-dimensional form and space in a watercolor painting.
Articulate, in writing and orally, their own motivations and choices as artists.
Describe and analyze art images in written and oral form using new vocabulary words.
Visual Arts Content Standards for California Public Schools
Grades 9–12 Proficient
1.0 Artistic Perception
Develop Perceptual Skills and Visual Arts Vocabulary
1.1 Identify and use the principles of design to discuss, analyze, and write about visual aspects in the environment and
in works of art, including their own.
Impact of Media Choice
1.5 Analyze the material used by a given artist and describe how its use influences the meaning of the work.
2.0 Creative Expression
Skills, Processes, Materials, and Tools
2.1 Solve a visual arts problem that involves the effective use of the elements of art and the principles of design.
2.4 Review and refine observational drawing skills.
4.0 Aesthetic Valuing
4.1 Articulate how personal beliefs, cultural traditions, and current social, economic, and political contexts
influence the interpretation of the meaning or message in a work of art.
Make Informed Judgments
4.4 Articulate the process and rationale for refining and reworking one of their own works of art.
4.5 Employ the conventions of art criticism in writing and speaking about works of art.
United States National Standards for Visual Arts Education
1.Understanding and applying media, techniques, and processes
a. Apply media, techniques, and processes with sufficient skill, confidence, and sensitivity that their intentions
are carried out in their artworks.
b. Conceive and create works of visual art that demonstrate an understanding of how the communication of their ideas relates
to the media, techniques, and processes they use.
2. Using knowledge of structures and functions
a. Demonstrate the ability to form and defend judgments about the characteristics and structures to accomplish
commercial, personal, communal, or other purposes of art.
c. Create artworks that use organizational principles and functions to solve specific visual arts problems.
3. Choosing and evaluating a range of subject matter, symbols, and ideas
a. Reflect on how artworks differ visually, spatially, temporally, and functionally.