Welcome to The Helpful Art Teacher, an interdisciplinary website linking visual arts to math, social studies, science and language arts.

Learning how to draw means learning to see. A good art lesson teaches us not only to create but to look at, think about and understand our world through art.

Please click on my page to see my personal artwork and artist statement: http://thehelpfulartteacher.blogspot.com/p/the-art-of-rachel-wintembe.html

Please contact me at thehelpfulartteacher@gmail.com. I would love to hear from you.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

A garden of flowers, blending colors using oil pastels

How many colors do you see in the photograph below?

Most students will say that they see orange and green but this photograph contains many colors.

 Look how many colors I was able to find, using the eye dropper tool in Adobe Photoshop : 
Assignment: Choose a digital photograph of a flower. You may take the photograph yourself, find a picture online or use one of my pictures below. 

Using the worksheet below as a guide,find all the colors in the picture and figure out how to  blend these colors. Secondary and tertiary colors can be blended from the three primary colors. Use white to create tints and very small amounts of black to create shades. 

If you have access to a photo editing program, like Adobe Photoshop, try using the eye dropper tool to see how many different colors you can find. Just hover the eye dropper over a color and click your mouse. Then switch to the paint brush tool open a new file and paint a small area. Go back to your original picture and select another color with the eye dropper. Continue this procedure until you have created a complete palate. It may surprise you to see just how many variations of each color make up a single picture. 

Here are some of my photographs. You may use them for this project if you do not have your own flower pictures. Better yet, take your camera for a walk and start an image collection. Many supermarkets and grocery stores sell flowers. You can also visit a florist shop or park.



Click on the link below and upload  the photo you wish to draw or paint to generate a custom color palette:

Now you are ready to begin your oil pastel drawing. If you are fortunate enough to have access to a garden or some fresh flowers, you can draw from real life. If not, it is perfectly acceptable to use photographs for this assignment.

Since I teach in a city with no nearby public gardens, and fresh cut flowers are expensive, here are some of the color theory worksheets I provide for my students:

How many colors can you find in each small photograph?

Here is the worksheet I give my students for this assignment. You are welcome to use it or design your own oil pastel color blending project.

In the short movie below, I demonstrate how to create flowers by blending colors with oil pastels. 
This is the technique I teach my students.

Below is a similar technique that I teach to my students using water soluble oil pastels:

For all other applications please contact the helpful art teacher for permission.

The document above contains 25 printable worksheets.
 Below are five samples from the collection.

Do you enjoy blending colors, drawing and painting pictures of flowers? You may be interested in learning about the art of Georgia O'Keeffe. Click here to see some examples of her large flower paintings. Click here to learn about her art and  click here to learn about her life.  

Click on the link below to read my article on how to look at and draw flowers through the eyes of Georgia O'Keeffe. 

Are you interested in learning more about
 color mixing and color theory? 
Click here to read my earlier post on color, color theory 101.

Need some inspiration to get started?
I created this short film, Color Study of Flowers, and set it to music. 

Aliciasmom's Flower painting in Gouache Rachel Wintemberg album on Photobucket

Some paintings of flowers by the artist Georgia O'Keeffe

How to create a flower picture 
Find a photograph with a flower that you would like to paint. Make sure you can see all the intricate details 
and shapes of the flower.
Use two 'L' shaped pieces of oaktag to create a box around just the flower you want to draw. Do not include the stem or background. Make sure the petals touch the pieces of oaktag on all sides. Enlarge and copy what you see in the box on to a larger piece of paper, making sure the petals in your drawing touch the edges of the paper.

While Georgia O'Keeffe's paintings might seem like abstract art at first glance, she was actually portraying a reality that few people notice. Below is a collection of short films showing what flowers really look like when you zoom in up close. 


Both of these oil pastel drawings were created by seventh grade students. The backgrounds were painted with diluted tempera paint.

The picture above was created by a 5th grade student

Works in progress by my bilingual 5th graders. Great job blending colors, overlapping and overcoming language barriers. I am so proud of all of you!
Completed work by a 7th grade student

Completed work by 5th grade students


  1. Absolutely LOVE your work. I am wondering if you can provide me with some guidance on how you are producing the videos. I will message you on FB. Many Thanks! LB

  2. The videos were made on my IPhone and put together using the app IMovie. That's also how I added the music and VoiceOver and did the editing. I have an IPad now which works even better. Then I just upload to YouTube or Vimeo. iPad is great because you can add animation to your movies too ( I use an app called 'animation creator'). You can edit still photos, video clips and animations together then add VoiceOver, sound effects and music in IMovie right on your phone or IPad.

    1. That was just what I needed today. Absolutly beautiful

    2. Thank you so much for your tip on how to make videos! I'm currently building my website and I'm planning on, eventually, add some videos of my Demos.

    3. Wow Lana, your watercolors are exquisite!

  3. This is such a helpful blog. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Your video sound is gone - are you able to fix that?