As long as there have been artists, artists have found inspiration from their environment. I live in New England and the fall season is particularly inspirational and is hands down my favorite time of the year. The leaves change color, the apples are ripe for picking, birds are migrating, folks are stocking up on candy for Halloween and acorns are underfoot everywhere. Pumpkins are hitting the farmstand and all-things pumpkin spice have taken over. As a teacher, I encourage you to grab onto some of that inspiration for the classroom, and here are some ideas for lessons.

  1. Leaves
     You can find some great leaf projects here at My Art Lesson. Check out our Klimt Inspired Leaves/Tree, Mixed Media Nature Drawings, Nature-Themed Collagraphs, and Nature Monoprints with Gelatin Plates.
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  2. Pumpkins!
    Art Teacher Jennifer Fordyce Ufkin’s students paint glass pumpkins (first image below). Ceramic art teacher Augustina Matsui’s students do “Wacky Pumpkins” (image 2 below). She writes, “They are hand-painted pinch pots. We do tutorials on face parts for 3-4 days, lessons on pinch pots, and then I set them loose. We use acrylic paint .”
  3. Yayoi Kusama
    Yayoi Kusama is an artist you might consider for the fall. She is well known for her extensive use of polka dots and for her infinity installations. The pumpkin is one of Yayoi Kusama’s most well-known motifs and mushrooms is yet another one. Check out the below lesson at Art Room Britt. Art teacher Kathryn Evans Jividen shares her students Kusama inspired work (second image below).

  4. Skeletons
    Skeletons are a great way to teach about anatomy, proportions and so much more. Something about skeletons appeals to teenagers as well. And it’s a nod to the season of Halloween without being too holiday-centric.  Art Teacher Mo Iqbal shares her students’ skeleton drawings below (first and second images below). Nikki Harrington is dubbing her student’s skeleton drawings the “Xray project.”  She required students to make four drawings of the skeleton and they used India ink for the background and white gel pen to outline and border.
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  5. Monsters
    Heath Ofstead shared progress on a teacher sample for her next lesson, called Monster Planters (first image below). My own advanced ceramic students created gargoyles in hire fire clay. The clay fires to a speckled stone-like appearance. Also, check out the ink monster lesson inspired by artist Stefan Bucher. Tara Thoreson shared her students’ ugly dolls below (images 5 and 5 below). Also, check out our interview with ceramic monster artist James DeRosso.
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  6. Candy!
    If we are talking about Halloween, can we include those very cool candy wrapper lessons? Dory Womack shared examples from her students. As a graphic designer, this lesson really speaks to the typography lover in me. Womack shared that the students used a 4-square grid. Students could grid more if they needed. Students first practiced creating four different composition sketches and then choose the best. Students then used acrylic to paint them.
  7. National Hispanic Heritage Month
    National Hispanic Heritage month runs from September 15 to October 15. I LOVED teaching Molas. If you haven’t heard about Molas, check out this lesson  (first example below) and the handout on Molas. Art teacher Erin Maggs teaches Mexican Papel Picados in preparation for Dia De Los Muertos. She shares, “I had the students design a panel that celebrated a person, event, or achievement that was special to them. They then had to think in terms of space instead of the line so that their positive space (the tissue paper) was all connected. They colored in what they planned to cut away in dark marker, and then placed the tissue paper sheet over their design. The marker was dark enough to see through the tissue paper, so the students could then use a Xacto knife to cut away the unwanted tissue paper. “Art Teacher Sarah Ellen created Alebrijes with her students (example 3,4 below) after watching the Disney’s movie, Coco. Check out our student handout on Alebrijes.
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  8. Fruit
    Fall food is a great topic. Check out this Color theory with Fruit Forms lesson (Example 1 below) and Sandra Queen’s Good Enough to Eat: Photo Realistic Color Pencil (Example 2 below).
  9. Animals and Birds
    Deer, squirrels, foxes, woodpeckers, and owls are all associated with the fall. Check out this week’s new lesson, Owl Drawings as well as our Positive Negative Symmetrical Animal Designs.
  10. Trees!
    Weather it’s a tree in full bloom or a beautiful bare tree after the leaves have fallen, trees are a constant source of beauty and inspiration to artists. Check out our lesson Abstract Trees After Mondrian. Check out the Autumn Birch Tree lesson found on the blog Art Of Life.

    Comment below and tell us your favorite fall-inspired lesson.