Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Lesson on Wayne Thiebaud

Todd Hauser


This activity is designed to introduce art students to a lesser-known contemporary artist. Students view the artist's work in order to form opinions and share in class discussions. They also critique some of the artists work using the Linderman method and recreate the artist's style of work with their own paintings.


The student applies various subjects, symbols, and ideas in works of art.

The student understands that works of art can communicate an idea and elicit a variety of responses through the use of selected media, techniques, and processes.

The student understands some of the implications of intentions and purposes in particular works of art.


-Images of Wayne Thiebaud's work (preferably slides) and display method
-18 x 24 in. 80 lb. White sulfite drawing paper
-Tempera paint (primary, secondary, black, brown, white)
-Variety of round, flat brushes
-Palettes to mix paint
-Water containers
-Paper towels
-4-10 cakes or pies (slices preferred)


1. Gather materials for activity
2. Make copies of the checklist in the associated file for each studentís assessment.


1. Discuss with students the Linderman style of critiquing an artwork. (Describe, Evaluate, Interpret, Judge,) Tell the students that this is one way of many to effectively critique an artwork. Make sure the students understand why it is important to look at an artwork using a method of critique rather than just glancing at a picture.

2. Tell the students that they will be looking at an artist named Wayne Thiebaud. Tell them that he is a contemporary artist who is still doing work today and his artwork is a reflection of his interest of working with composition.

3. Discuss with students how things are put on display. Tell them to think about how shirts are put out on shelves, or how doughnuts are put out in a bakery, or how shoes are set out. Tell them that these things are put out like this for a reason, so that they appeal visually to consumers. However, Wayne Thiebaud became interested in these objects for their aesthetic value.

4. Put up a slide of Thiebaudís work. (Pies, Pies, Pies, Cakes, or Three Machines etc.)

5. As you go through some of these slides talk about the repetition of shapes, symmetrical composition, geometric shapes, light color values, positive shapes, negative space, contrasting color outlines, thick textures, high point of view, simplified shapes, horizon line, foreground, halation, cast shadows, asymmetrical composition, diagonals, organic shapes, etc. Put these words on the board as they are discussed in relation to the art work.

6. Have the students take out a piece of paper and a writing utensil.

7. Have the students use the first part of the Linderman method (Describe) to write out a description of a slide. Make sure the slide is still up. Give the students 2-3 minutes to do this.

8. Allow sharing and discuss what the students wrote down as a class.

9. Repeat steps 7 and 8 with the remaining three parts of the Linderman method. Remind them of the words on the board. You may need to model this for students until they feel familiar with it.

10. Have the students turn in their writing to you.

11. This should complete day one.

12. Day two should begin with a short summary of day one as well as discussing the basic principals of Thiebaudís work. With permission share some of the evaluations, interpretations and judging from yesterday's papers.

13. Set out the cakes or pies for the students to work with. Each student will only need to work with one cake or pie.

14. Pass out the painting paper to each student.

15. Tell the students to make sketches of the object on their own notebook paper. With these drawings they should be eliminating the non-essential detail and focus on the shape-like quality of the object.

16. Tell the students to select one drawing that will be repeated several times in their painting. (2 to 4 times)

17. The students will then construct an outline for their painting by using light pencil sketches on their painting paper. Tell them not to draw to dark because graphite tends to show through paint.

18. While they are drawing, remind them again about the elements used in Thiebaudís work.

19. At the end of the class store the cakes and pies for the next day.

20. This should conclude day two.

21. For day three, the art supplies will need to be set up for the class. Make sure each student has availability to brushes, water, palettes, paint containers, paints, and paper towels.

22. The cakes will need to be set out in the same positions as the day before.

23. Tell the students to determine what colors they will need for the painting and use the palettes and paints to make those colors. Remind students that to mix paints they must add small amounts of dark paint into lighter paint.

24. Have the students keep the colors in the container and not to discard those colors until the painting is finished.

25. Tell the students that when painting to try to paint the larger shapes first and work from dark to light. Contrast warm and cool colors. Contrast light and shadow areas. Use thin lines of contrasting colors around the edges. Emphasize texture.

26. Begin painting.

27. Walk around the room and help the students who need help or are having problems.

28. Before class ends, have all the students put up their work and materials for next days use.

29. This will conclude day three.

30. Day four will also be a day for working on the painting, as well as examining each other's. Students should complete the painting during day four.

31. Students display completed paintings and clean up materials. Allow students to view each other's work and comment appropriately. Depending on your class, you may need to review responding appropriately to other people's artwork.


Assess students on their critique's of Thiebaud's work, their paintings and their responses to classmates' work, using the checklist in the associated file. Students who do not demonstrate application and understanding of the concepts will need written feedback on the checklist and additional time for practice.

Attached Files

Assessment checklist     File Extension: pdf

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