Lesson 3: Painting chairs

Painting chairs
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Slide 1: Slide

This lesson contains 18 slides, with text slides and 1 video.

time-iconLesson duration is: 105 min


  • Easel
  • Museum edition of the bedroom
  • Digital blackboard /screen
  • Internet connection
  • Cover material on the table (e.g. tablecloth or old newspapers)
  • For each student;
  • A3 painting paper stronger than 120 gr
  • 2 brushes 10 mm and 5 mm
  • Acrylic paint in the colours: white, black, yellow, red and blue
  • Flat palette for blending (not with pits)
  • Charcoal
  • Kitchen paper
Approximate timings
  • Start lesson incl. asking the kids about their chair ideas & context of yellow house as artist’s house 10 minutes
  • Discuss Vincent and Paul’s chairs (incl. what’s on your chair ) 10 minutes
  • Shape / material / colour 10 minutes
  • Sketch chair using charcoal 10 minutes
  • Make chair your own 10 minutes
  • Paint chair (incl. instructions about paint and preparing tables) 40 minutes
  • Discuss chairs 10 minutes
  • Round off lesson & tidy classroom together 5 minutes
Total: 105 minutes.

Items in this lesson

Painting chairs

Slide 1 - Slide

This item has no instructions

Slide 2 - Slide

Re-establish contact with the kids and tell them that you’re going to be painting today. Can they remember what they are going to paint? Have they been looking out for interesting chairs? 
Vincent wrote:
'From the start, I wanted to arrange the house not just for myself but in such a way as to be able to put somebody up.
Naturally, that ate up most of my money.
With what was left, I bought 12 chairs, a mirror, and some small indispensable things. Which in short means that next week I’ll be able to go and live there.'

Slide 3 - Slide

Return to the context of Vincent van Gogh. 
Explain: Vincent was living in the yellow house in Arles (France) when he painted The Bedroom. His dream was to live there with other artists and to work together. He wrote in a letter to Theo: ‘I really want to make of it – an artist’s house.’ 
Vincent put a lot of work into furnishing the yellow house so that he could proudly welcome other artists. He bought lots of chairs, for example – no fewer than 12! So it’s perhaps no surprise that chairs appear so often in his drawings and paintings. 

You might like to read this section of letter 677 (in the hotspot)
Paul Gauguin
Vincent van Gogh

Slide 4 - Slide

Explain: Eventually Paul Gauguin, a French artist, came to live with Vincent for a while. These are portraits that Vincent and Paul made of each other. Around this time, Vincent made two paintings of chairs: his own and Paul’s. We looked at them quickly last time. 

Slide 5 - Slide

Explain: you could say that these two paintings are portraits. Each one tells us a lot about the owner of the chair.
What does Vincent’s chair tell us about him?
- He likes simple things (you can see this in the chair he chose, it’s simple)
- He likes to smoke a pipe
- He’s a practical/active person (the chair is made so you can be active when you sit on it; it would be good for drawing or chopping food, for example; it’s not made to chill out in)
- He likes to be in the kitchen
- He’s a daytime person
- Etc.
What does Paul’s chair tell us about him?
- Elegant/mysterious/stylish
- Likes reading
- Is an evening or night person
- Has style
- Etc.

Slide 6 - Slide

Explain: the chair you paint should say something about you too. So your chair will actually be a self-portrait, just like these two.
Optional: Have the kids work in pairs, thinking first for themselves and then for each other what things they could paint on their chair instead of the pipe and the book in the examples.

shape, material and colour

Slide 7 - Slide

Explain: To design a chair that suits you, think about three things:
1. Shape (straight or curved lines, closed or open, four legs or another design, armrests or not, backrest high/low, decoration, etc.)
2. Material (hard/soft, patterned/plain, old/new, etc.)
3. Colour (bright colours, contrasts, colours that are close together, pastel shades, black-and-white)

Slide 8 - Slide

Ask if the kids know the colour wheel. Point out how you can mix colours and that some colours are close together and some are far apart. 
Draw a chair

Slide 9 - Slide

Now, step by step, draw a chair in perspective with the kids.

Explain that they shouldn’t make the lines too thick, so they can be rubbed out, and they can’t be seen under the paint.

Slide 10 - Slide

First (1, 2 and 3), draw a cube with charcoal using very thin lines. The children should use charcoal.

Then (4, 5 and 6) use a thick line to draw over the lines of the cube that make a chair.  

And rub out the other lines as much as possible.

Slide 11 - Slide

If you think drawing a cube is too complicated for these kids, there is another way. It doesn’t give them as much insight, but it can save time (and frustration).
Start by drawing a diamond shape (the seat of the chair) in the middle of the sheet (1).
Then draw two vertical lines of equal length pointing upwards ... (2)
And three vertical lines of equal length pointing downwards (3) + a line connecting the two lines pointing upwards (4). Show how you can make the seat and a chair leg thicker, as an example (5 and 6).

Slide 12 - Slide

Explain: now you’re going to turn this basic chair into your own chair, by changing and adding things. Show what you mean using three examples on the smartboard. 
Paint your chair

Slide 13 - Slide

Explain: now you’re going to paint your chair. Think again about what colours are best for you.
Practical instructions for the kids
- Make sure your table is completely covered, with old newspaper for example
- Wipe your brush clean on the kitchen roll before you start using a new colour.
- If you want to mix colours, take two little bits of paint and mix them on a separate piece of foil.
- Start with the chair itself. When you’re done, paint an interesting floor and wall.

Slide 14 - Slide

It’s useful to prepare little ‘palettes’ of paint beforehand (on pieces of foil or in eggboxes, for example), which you can now hand out. Several kids can use one palette; maybe groups of four, for example. 

Slide 15 - Slide

Place or hang the paintings next to each other and talk about them together. You might like to use the following questions. NB: there are no right or wrong answers here.
  • Are there any chairs where you can easily tell who painted it?
  • Which chairs have interesting shapes or materials?
  • Who used unusual colours?
  • Did you enjoy making the paintings?

Slide 16 - Slide

Explain: next lesson you’re going to make a self-portrait, a photograph. And this time you really will be in the picture!

Slide 17 - Video

Option: filmclip about identity and image (1:08 min).
Bring two objects to the next lesson:
- The object should not be valuable
- The object should not be too important to you
- You already have it at home

Slide 18 - Slide

Explain: We’re going to use all kinds of things in the self-portrait, so it’s important to get some things together and bring them. You don’t need to think about how you’re going to use them in your self-portrait yet. There’s no point, because someone else is going to use them. And you’re going to use what someone else brings. 

Assignment: Bring two objects to the next lesson.
- The object should not be valuable; choose something that hardly costs anything
- The object should not be too important to you; you aren’t really attached to it
- You already have it at home
- Examples: empty pop bottle, a few pegs, a role of wrapping paper, a block of Post-It notes, a watering can, etc.