Colour all around us

Lesson plan

English - KS1/2 Art & Design
Scottish - Early and First Level Expressive Arts

  • Estimated time: 60 minutes
  • Location: Outdoors & Indoors
  • School term: All year round
  • Key stage(s): KS1, KS2
  • Subject(s): Art&DT

Learning objectives

  • Explore the visual and tactile elements of a garden
  • Learn about great artists inspired by nature and make links to their own work
  • Experiment with line, shape, colour, tone, pattern and texture with a range of materials
  • Observe, record, revisit and review
  • Share ideas, discuss and comment on own and others' work

Key vocabulary

Primary colour, secondary colour, colour wheel, texture, pattern, tone, contrast, harmonise, influence, technique



Go outside and look at how we use colour in our gardens – take photos of flower beds in public areas, bunches of flowers and observe how colours occur naturally - flowers, stems, leaves, branches etc. Using a colour wheel, identify primary and secondary colours. Try to work out which colour combination has been used for planting. Opposite colours on the wheel look great in a contrasting way, and colours next to each other are complimentary, creating a harmonious effect.

Here are some fun ideas to explore

  • Collect a rainbow – Using strips of double sided sticky tape on a card. Assign a colour to groups of children and give a set time for collecting fallen plant matter. On completion lay out the strips in the order of the rainbow.
  • Using paint colour swatches – can children find a matching colour in nature? Cut a hole in the card so learners can match the foliage or flowers closely. Discuss finds using descriptive colour vocabulary (vermilion, magenta, bronze etc) taking inspiration from the named paint colours.
  • Children collect a colourful, fallen plant part, stick it onto paper and experiment mixing with paint to replicate the colour and shape and use as an inspiration to create abstract pictures.

Be inspired by famous artists

Look at the work of Piet Mondrian, Gustav Klimt, Georges Seurat and William Morris – all very different artists who have used nature in developing their style of work.

  • Create 3D spirals with coloured leaves and/or flowers after looking at The Tree of Life by Gustav Klimt.
  • Sketch observed trees with charcoal, like the early work created by Piet Mondrian or make 3D blocks of colour with fallen foliage on a grid, like his later geometric, abstract work.
  • Observe the repetitive nature of the fabric designs by William Morris. After some close observation, experiment with making sketches of flowers and leaves using a range of materials (from felt pens to chalk pastels). Photocopy the images created. Working in pairs repeat the images on a long strip of paper.
  • Work collaboratively on a large scale painting project – using sponges, create a garden scene using the pointillist technique (dots of coloured paint), like Seurat.



Give time for learners to talk about their creations and answer questions.

Review each others' work, make positive comments using the descriptive key vocabulary where possible.

Collect sketches of plants and flowers, colour sticky strips and photos in sketch books, to be revisited for later projects.


Equipment needed

  • Access to different coloured foliage and flowers
  • Paint colour charts
  • Colour wheels
  • Digital cameras/ tablet devices
  • Sticky strips
  • Examples of work by famous artists
  • A range of art materials


  1. Recognise similarities and differences between the work of chosen artists. This could be recognising that an artist works in paint and another sketches with charcoal.
  2. Notice that they are creating pictures or sculptures in the style of a particular artist.


  1. Improve their mastery of techniques by experimenting with a range of materials.
  2. Learn about how famous artists developed their own style.



Assessment questions

  • Which colour combinations do we like best? 
  • Can you name an artist who used ideas from nature?
  • What do you like about a specific artist's work?
  • Discuss which artist influenced your design and how?

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