Submitted by Sally Dailey, Cumberland County Schools

Lesson Title:
Japanese Watercolors

Grade Level or Course:
Visual Arts I

Time Allotment:
Three (3) 90 minute Class periods

Targeted Goals and Objectives from the 2000 North Carolina Arts Education Standard Course of Study and Grade Level Competencies, K-12:

Goal 1: The learner will develop critical and creative thinking skills and perceptual awareness necessary for understanding and producing art.

1.01 Plan and organize for creating art.
1.02 Devise and use strategies for imagining and implementing images.
1.03 Create multiple solutions in problem solving and discuss that some solutions are better than others.
1.04 Recognize and discuss that concepts and images from a variety of sources can be used to create original art.
1.05 Show how ideas develop and evolve over a period of time.

Goal 2: The learner will develop skills necessary for understanding and applying media, techniques, and processes.

2.01 Explore and discuss unique properties and potential of art materials.
2.02 Demonstrate techniques and processes for working with each art material.

Goal 5: The learner will understand the visual arts in relation to history and cultures.

5.01 Know that the visual arts have a history, purpose and function in all cultures.
5.02 Identify specific works of art as belonging to particular cultures, times and places.

Targeted Goals and Objectives from the North Carolina Standard Course of Study and Grade
Level Competencies, K-12
for other content areas:

Social Studies: Japan, Cultural Awareness

Alignment with NC High School Exit Exam: (check domain and write objective number(s)

__X__ Communication 1.4 & 1.7

__X__ Processing Information 2.12

_____ Problem Solving:

_____ Using Numbers and Data:


Lesson Objective(s):

As part of the study of other cultures, students create a Japanese style watercolor using traditional strokes of the brush. Students use a chart of the Japanese brush strokes to practice. Successful completion of the practice strokes will determine the readiness to paint a final watercolor composition. Students then view works by Japanese artists such as Hokusai. A rubric for brush technique, natural subject matter, and good arrangement will be used. The rubric will become part of the student portfolio with a sample of the artwork.

Materials/Equipment Needed:

Art Prints by Japanese watercolorists, or art textbook Discovering Art History, chapter on Japanese art, specifically (Hokusai), 9" x 12" white paper, watercolor sets, #8 brush or bamboo brush, water containers, 18" x 24" newsprint paper (brush stroke practice sheet), Brush stroke chart, Japanese watercolor Rubric, ruler, modeling clay (to make a chop), red stamp pad


Lesson Procedure:

Lesson One (90 minutes)

  1. Inform students that they will be learning to paint in a very different manner. Display examples of Japanese artists (such as Hokusai), or ask students to view works in the textbook, Discovering Art History, by this artist. Discuss the simple brush lines and use of good composition by these artists. A rubric of guidelines for their paintings, and a Brush Stroke Chart, will be given to the students so that they will know what is expected of them before beginning.

  2. Model Japanese form of painting using correct brush position (straight up handle and gentle pushing of brush tip). The teacher should help students with correct procedures.

  3. The teacher should encourage students to practice each stroke on the chart several times to make it look just like the chart. Students will learn that the correct use of the brush results in a more beautiful final work of art. Asian artists, as should be explained by the teacher, were great at simplifying nature in their designs.

Lesson Two (90 minutes)

  1. Provide students with time to complete practice brush strokes and to monitor their progress, checking the work individually. (Praise; ask questions; Make suggestions). Use rubric in assessing brush strokes.

  2. Provide rulers and 9" x 12" white paper. Draw a 1" border around the edge of the paper. Student who have successfully practiced the strokes can begin the final composition using subjects from nature just like the Japanese artists, (example: fish, flowers, plants, trees, insects and other natural objects).

  3. Inform students that in the next lesson they will create a "chop" or symbolic name design.

Lesson Three (90 minutes)

  1. Model creating a "chop" with modeling clay. Each student uses a small lump of clay, (golf ball size). The students will roll the clay on its side, tap both ends flat and pinch one end for a handle of the stamp.

  2. Using a pencil, the student will carve a design of their initials. Encourage unique motifs.

  3. A red stamp pad is used for the chop stamp to "sign" the finished Japanese watercolor design.

  4. Have students discuss what they have learned and file rubrics with finished watercolor designs in individual portfolios.


Assessment of individual work: Students will self assess and the teacher will assess work using the rubric (See information in Assessment section). Students should be familiar with the rubric that incorporates the guidelines for their compositions.

Special considerations:

This lesson should be completed after students have learned the elements of art and principles of good composition. They should have drawing experience of natural objects and experimented with watercolors prior to this lesson. Note: This lesson may take more than 3 class periods depending on the abilities of the students and the size of the class.


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