Getting Buggy! Creepy-Crawly Floral Still Life Collage
Developed by: Phyllis Brown, retired art educator, art education blogger at plbrown.blogspot.com (There’s a Dragon in my Art Room)
Lesson Plan Ideas
Learning Objectives for Grades: 3-5
- Understand what is meant by ‘still life’.
- Learn about Dutch artist Rachel Ruysch (1664-1750), and examine her lush still life paintings, especially noticing the ‘creepy-crawlies’ hidden in them. Also, look at her use of dark background colors and the overlapping of flowers and other objects.
- Look at images of insects to see how their bodies are structured, and create their own drawings of insects based on the body structures of real insects.
- Use repeating patterns to fill the insides of the bodies of their insect drawings.
- Learn an easy way to create the shape of a vase on folded paper.
- Look at flowers or pictures of flowers noting the shapes of flower petals and also their leaves.
- Using drawing and collage, create their own still life compositions, complete with a variety of insects!
Discuss artist Rachel Ruysch, and show students a variety of her still life paintings. Have them look for the insects and small reptiles hidden among the flowers and on the tables in her paintings. Explore how the artist used dark backgrounds, and overlapped the shapes of the flowers to create a rich, full look to her compositions.
Look at pictures of insects and spiders and how their bodies are structured. Using gel pens, each student will draw five or more creepy-crawlies of various types and sizes. (Two sheets of the 9”x12” Pacon® Black Drawing Paper were used to complete five insects for this example.) Try to accurately mimic the shapes of real bugs and spiders, but encourage the students to be imaginative filling their bugs’ bodies with a variety of interesting and colorful repeated patterns and designs. No scribbling! Color the eyes brightly if desired. Students may choose to use a black marker to add contrast to their bugs. (I used a black permanent marker to outline my insects, and for a pupil on eyes.)
Select one sheet of 12”x18” Tru-Ray® Construction Paper for the background of the artwork. Trying to mimic the use of dark colors by Rachel Ruysch, I selected a deep blue for this example.
Cut a piece of 9”x12” piece of Tru-Ray® Construction Paper to 6″x12″ for the table. I selected brown, again deciding to keep my background dark. Students can choose other colors as desired. Holding the 12″x18″ paper vertically, glue the 6″x12″ paper across the bottom (lining up with edges and bottom of vertical paper) to create a table surface. Their background paper will become the wall.
Fold a sheet of 9”x12” Pacon® Black Drawing Paper in half like a book. Placing the paper with the fold on the side, draw a gentle S curve from top to bottom, using pencil or gel pen.
Cut along the S curve, and then open. This will become the vase.
Glue the vase onto the surface of the table (below the top edge, so it looks like it is sitting ON the table, not falling off the edge!). Decorate the vase as desired, using the metallic gel sticks or metallic markers. I decorated the sample with simple wavy lines mimicking the curve of the vase, using the Gel Sticks.
Using a pencil, draw flower shapes of various sizes (keep them simple for cutting!) on construction paper. Also draw circles to use as flower centers. To get multiple flowers, layer together three or four pieces of construction paper when cutting the flower shapes. I used 20 flowers of various shapes and sizes in this sample.
Using the same process as the flowers, draw and cut a variety of leaf shapes. I used two colors of green for the leaves.
Cut out the insect drawings, cutting around them somewhat loosely. No need to try to cut skinny legs too closely; they will rip!
Begin arranging and gluing flowers, leaves, and creepy-crawlies in and around the vase. Arrange the flowers closely so no stems are needed! A flower or leaf may also ‘fall’ on the table. Insert the bugs wherever you like! Some flowers or bugs might even go off the border of the artwork!
Use the gel pens to embellish the artwork, adding veins to the leaves, and various dots and lines as desired on the flower petals. For display, artwork can be mounted on a larger piece of construction paper.