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Finger paints explore florals and Marc Chagall

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One of the symbols of love is a red rose. People often give roses for Valentine’s Day. Students in fifth grade and above can make a painting of a vase of roses for Valentine’s Day.

The rose is one of the most difficult flowers to draw or paint because of the way the petals overlap and curl around each other. A stylized version will be easier for students to make. Marc Chagall is one artist that made a simple rendition of flowers. He was a member of the Fauvist Movement that experimented with the use of bright colors. To see examples of his paintings, visit

To make a painting similar to his “Flowers in a Vase”, you will need:

  • Corrugated cardboard that is slightly larger than the paper
  • Finger paint paper or butcher paper
  • Masking tape or stapler
  • Finger paint in primary colors
  • Paper towels
  • Art print of Marc Chagall’s “Flowers in a Vase”

Begin by taping or stapling the paper to a piece of cardboard. This will help keep the paper from curling up, and will make it easier to put the paintings in a drying rack.

Smear red paint on the lower third of the sheet for the table. Smear yellow paint on the upper two thirds for the wall. Leave an area for the vase, or remove the paint where the vase will be located by wiping it off with a finger.

The most common mistake beginning painters make when drawing an object on a table is to place the object on the edge of the table. Point out the rules of perspective. The line between the yellow and red areas is the back of the table. The bottom of the paper is the front of the table. The vase is sitting on the table, between the front and back edges. To make the vase look like it is sitting in the middle of the table, the bottom of the vase should be halfway between the bottom of the page and the line where the red meets the yellow.

Apply blue paint to make a vase, in the shape of the student’s choosing. Mix dots of blue on the yellow background to make green leaves. Mix dots of red on the yellow background to make red and orange flowers. To make a red flower, first wipe away the yellow paint, and then apply the red.

To make a rose, smear a circle of red paint. Use a fingertip or fingernail to wipe away white highlights on the tip of each petal. This technique is similar to Donna Dewberry’s one-stroke technique for making roses, with comma shapes circling around the center of the flower. Begin by making the center of the flower, and wipe away a small dot. Then make curved strokes around that dot to make the curled edge of a petal.

Other tools can be used to wipe highlights and make veins on the leaves; toothpick, cotton swabs, or coffee stir straws. Chagall often used patterned wall paper for the background of his works, so a pattern can be added to the yellow wall paper by wiping off white lines.


  1. The student demonstrated an understanding of Fauvism by using bright colors in the painting.
  2. The student used techniques and tools for adding and removing paint to the paper.
  3. The student used perspective in placing the vase on the table.
  4. The student was responsible and careful with the materials.

Sunshine State Standards

VA.A.1.3.1 uses two-dimensional and three-dimensional media, techniques, tools and processes to solve specific visual arts problems with refinement and control.

©Paula Hrbacek All rights reserved. Please link to this article instead of reposting it. For reprint rights use the contact form at



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