by John Reynier

EDTE 228-04: Fine Arts

Spring 2002

GRADE LEVEL: Sixth Grade


TOPIC: This is a visual arts lesson that will introduce expressionism using the work of Norwegian Artist Edvard Munch, with students composing a picture depicting a specific emotion.

RATIONALE: Expressionism developed in the late 19th and early 20th century moving art in the direction of expressing feelings and emotions, rather than depicting reality and objectivity. The expressionist artist is not concerned with reality as it appears, but rather the emotions that it evokes. (Encarta, 2001) Providing students with the opportunity to discover the connections between art and emotions can help foster a deeper appreciation for art on a personal level. Also, allowing students to experiment with line and color will offer an association between the use of artistic techniques and how emotion can be communicated in the visual arts.


STRATEGY: Direct Instruction

Guided Discovery

VOCABULARY (age-appropriate definitions):

From and previous lesson: Line, Color,

Expressionism- art that expresses emotions and feeling

Realism- art that shows objects and nature the way it really looks

Exaggerate- over-emphasizing something

Subjectivity- how something appears to one’s self

Objectivity- how something appears to others

INTRODUCTION: The lesson begins by presenting students with different works of art by Edvard Munch, including The Scream and The Bridge. Then, posing the following questions to the class: What is this a painting of? How does this painting make you feel? What type of emotions would you associate with this? What do you think the artist was feeling when he painted this? How do you see feelings in the painting? What type of lines does he use? What do the colors reveal?

The next step is introducing the term expressionism and how it comparisons to the concept of realism. Using Munch as a specific example, describe his own life and the influence that it played on his paintings. The use of line and color in creating emotion is crucial to point out in Munch’s work. The emphasis on emotion is the most important element, with little attention needed to be paid to reality.

The teacher will then provide a demonstration, with class involvement, about how feelings can be presented by using line and color. For example, if the chosen emotion is anger the teacher might ask the class: What colors could you use to depict anger? What type of lines would you use to show anger? The teacher will then show examples of different pictures and ask them: What emotion does this picture convey?


  1. The teacher will hand out a variety of magazine pictures depicting landscapes, portraits, and other situations. The students will be asked to choose a feeling to impose on their picture and then turn to a partner and share their ideas.
  2. The students will be dismissed in their partners to choose from either crayons or pastels. They will also choose a piece of color construction paper to do it on. Students are only grouped with the partners for sharing of materials, but each child will create their own picture.
  3. Once students decide on an emotional approach to their picture, they will work independently, as the teacher circulates to provide encouragement and inspiration.
  4. As students begin to complete their pictures, they will have the opportunity to view material about expressionism and Edvard Munch provided for the lesson by the teacher.
  5. Finally, students will have the opportunity to share their pictures and the rest of class will be able to ask questions and compliment on work.

CLOSURE: At the completion of sharing the work, the class will reassemble to discuss emotions that they found to be challenging or techniques they used to convey a certain feeling. The teacher will pose questions such as: What was the role of line and color in creating your pictures? Were some emotions more difficult than others to convey? Did your own feeling influence how your picture turned out? This question and answering format will allow the teacher to check for understanding.

CLEAN-UP: Students, in their partners, will return crayons and pastels to designated areas. Each pair of students will be responsible for cleaning their own table surfaces, and picking up any trash in the vicinity of their workspace. Pictures will be collected by the teacher for mounting and display in the classroom.

ASSESSMENT: Assessment will be checked by the teacher throughout the lesson, by observing students use of line and color to provide a sense of emotion in their pictures. The teacher will observe the students ability to recognize emotion in works of art, through discussion and questioning. Also, the teacher will assess whether or not students can successfully distinguish between obvious examples of expressionist art and other genres. These determinations of understanding will be made by during the lesson, the closure, and through students’ completed artworks.


Color construction paper



Magazine pictures

Reproduced paintings by Edvard Munch

Books on expressionism


MSN Encarta Online Encyclopedia 2001, Microsoft Corporation 2000 13 March 2002

Class Notes for EDTE 228A-Professors Guenter and Narbaitz, Spring 2002


EXTENSIONS: This lesson could be conducted with emphasis on the three other disciplines; theater, music, and dance. This would provide students with a well-rounded understanding of the vital role that emotion plays in art.

Also, other mediums of visual art could take the place of those uses in this lesson. With younger students they could use their fingers with paint to achieve a similar understanding of emotion.