Lesson Plan: Van Gogh's Sunflower Ceramic Relief

Van Gogh's Sunflower Ceramic Relief

MonaSubmitted by: Jan Hillmer, Visual Arts Specialist Berkeley Preparatory School
UNIT: Impressionists and post impressionists -Ceramics
Grade Level: Elementary (Jan did this with third grade)



Distribute clay. Have students create slabs approx ½" (1.3 cm) thick. Add and subtract clay to create sunflowers. Add Hanging device (hole can be made with straw - or insert a high fire wire loop on the back). Allow to dry. Fire. Glaze as desired.



Students will create sunflower drawings and relief elements on clay using a variety of tools to obtain textures. Students will observe Van Gogh’s sunflower paintings carefully - compare to work by Georgia O'Keeffe and Monet.



Moist Clay., Clay Modeling Tools., Canvas Rolls., slip dishes, Glazes. (or Underglazes.), Kiln.

See more examples


Instructional Resources:

Pictures of Van Gogh's Sunflower paintings (PowerPoint - This was not submitted with the lesson. You will have to create your own.) - Georgia O'Keeffe's sunflowers and Monet's flower painting. Actual flowers (or silk flowers) for study.


1 Vocabulary:
Impressionists, Post Impressionists, clay, score and Slip., fire, glaze. Texture, additive and subtractive methods of working with clay, relief.




  1. Show Van Gogh’s flowers. [If you need a print, see links above] Compare and contrast Sunflowers with Monet flowers and O’Keeffe's sun flowers. Discuss how Van Gogh used texture in his paintings.

  2. Science integration - discuss parts of flowers (use real flowers if possible).

  3. Demo clay slabs, scoring and slipping, additive and subtractive clay methods.


Compare and contrast slabs with paintings. Does the student demonstrate a variety of textures in their work?



Did students create textured works of sunflowers? Did students use both additive and subtractive methods of clay work? Did students exhibit craftsmanship in working with clay and glazing?



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