Art Lesson Plan: Paul Gauguin (Go-gan) Art: Opposite Colour Masterpieces

Learning Objectives:

  1. Learn about different artists.
  2. Imitate work of different artists.
  3. Learn about perspective (and how objects appear smaller in the background and larger in the foreground).
  4. Learn about background.
  5. Learn about foreground.
  6. Learn about horizon line (connect with word ‘horizontal’).
  7. Learn to draw some basics:   trees, mountains, lake.
  8. Review primary colours.
  9. Review secondary colours.
  10. Review colour wheel, and placement of primary and secondary colours).
  11. Use colour wheel.
  12. Become familiar with a colour wheel.
  13. Talk about opposites on a colour wheel  (use colour wheel and show how a blue sky could be painted the opposite colour of orange, and the green trees could be painted the opposite colour of red, the yellow sun could be painted purple, etc.).


  1. large colour wheel (for class to use while creating their art, and later to be placed on bulletin board with art to show opposite colours)
  2. print a short description (to read to students and put on bulletin board with their art) of “Paul Gauguin 1848-1903. Post Impressionism. He was a French artist famous for using unusual colours in his paintings of everyday people, things and nature. He was a sailor, then a stockbroker who took art lessons and became an artist. He lived with van Gogh, another well-known artist, for awhile, before moving to Tahiti. He painted yellow skies, orange grass and red mountains.”
  3. student sketch book which is a blank page workbook for art (I have several ‘Learn to Draw’ books that I use to teach the children how to draw animals and cars, etc.)
  4. pencils, or pencil crayons, and erasers for each student
  5. 4 to 6 sets (1 set for each group of 4-6 students) of bright primary and secondary paint colours and brushes for all students, thicker paint, not too runny
  6. large sheets of white drawing paper for each student
  7. wide masking tape that peels off paper easily
  8. towels and bin or sink of soapy water to wash off desks when done
  9. title for bulletin board, on paper:   “Grade 1 and 2 Gauguins (Go-gans) and their Opposite Colour Masterpieces”.


  1. Group desks together so paint can be shared among 4 or 6 students (one of each primary and secondary colour, plus brushes).
  2. Tape drawing paper down to each desk, so when drawing is done, and tape is peeled away, there will be a natural frame around the Gauguin style painting of unusual colours (or opposite colours).
  3. Student draws their landscape idea in their art workbook first, including a horizon line, overlapping mountains near and far, trees near and far in differing sizes both in the foreground and background, a stream or lake, a sun. Once teacher checks that all items are included (horizon, mtns, trees, water, sun, foreground items, background items), students may begin on their art work, pencilling the outlines of the items lightly in pencil or pencil crayons in the opposite colours. Once students are satisfied and have double-checked that they have the opposite colours in mind, they make begin painting their work.
  4. When work is finished, peel the tape off the desk, leaving it attached to the painting, and stick it up somewhere in the room to dry. If lots of paint has been used, lay if flat so colours do not run. Have students wash brushes and use the wet, soapy towels to clean their desks.
  5. When the art is dry, peel off the tape to leave a natural frame around their art, and display on the bulletin board, along with the colour wheel, and a title that says  “Grade 1 and 2 Gauguins (Go-gans) and their Opposite Colour Masterpieces”, with a short description about Paul Gauguin, as well as a posting of your objectives (listed above) for parents to see. Other classrooms will enjoy checking the art against the colour wheel to see what the original colour should have been.

Thanks to Michelle for her powerpoint contribution.
Download here: Paul Gauguin Powerpoint Lesson Plan

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One Response to “Paul Gauguin (Go-gan) Art: Opposite Colour Masterpieces”

  1. I made this lesson into a power point presentation for the first grade art program at my daughter’s school. it went over well! I’ve included a link to the presentation on skydrive: Paul Gauguin Powerpoint (content copied to lessonthis)

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