Lesson Plan

Intro to Chinese brush painting

Students explore chinese brush painting... without cleanup!
John D.
Classroom teacher
Luther Burbank High School
Sacramento, United States
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My Grades 9, 10, 11, 12
My Subjects Arts

Students will be able to... recognize the style of Chinese brush paintings, generate ideas for works that they might make with real brushes and ink, become familiar with marks that are made using different brushstrokes, and be introduced to the concept/skill of composition.

Grades 9 – 12
All Notes
Teacher Notes
Student Notes

1 Introduction to Chinese brush painting

Give specific instructions for finding Chinese brush painting examples.  use the link http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/chin/hd_chin.htm or navigate onscreen with the class to the chinese painting section in the Heilbrunn timeline or search for "brushpainting" on the Asian Art museum's website and the Google Art Project.

Student Instructions

We will navigate together to the Heilbrunn Chinese Painting collection.  Once there, you will have ten minutes to choose at least one painting that you would like to try to copy or imitate.  Print it. We will then repeat the process with the Asian Art museum and the Google art project.

2 Guided practice

You're going to love this:


is an interactive tool not unlike Microsoft Paint that allows students to experiment with Chinese brushpainting techniques without paper, brushes, or ink. 

Student Instructions

Use the Asian Art Museum's interactive brushpainting App to imitate, copy, or pay homage to one or more of the artworks you printed in the last activity.  Print your best work.

3 Deepening understanding

The Asian Art museum has great resources for teachers and students: try


for a reproducible you can distribute and review with students.  And for more examples and in-depth history when preparing your brushpainting unit, try the teacher packet:


Student Instructions

We will look at more examples of Chinese brush painting from the Asian Art museum.  Be alert for interesting compositions you might use as inspiration for your own work. 

Review the vocabulary of Chinese brushstrokes.  Choose one image from each page to re-create using the Asian Art Museum's interactive brushpainting App.

Print at least one of these.

Why might you choose one style over another?  What emotion do you associate with the style you chose? Write it on the printout.

4 Extended practice

Students can continue to explore the chinese brushpainting app and find Chinese brushpainting examples on Google Art Project.  This could possibly extend over a few to several days before moving into the real paper, ink, and brushes.  ACCOMMODATION: students with disabilities may continue to use the brushpainting app instead of moving to brush on paper.

Student Instructions

You will have one more day to explore chinese brushpainting on the computer.  Tomorrow we will use bamboo brushes, water, and ink on paper.  You don't have to copy what you've done so far, but you must have at least one printout to use for inspiration when we use real brushes, ink, and paper tomorrow.

5 Summative assessment

Activity: Presenting

Students will project their work on the document camera/digital projector so the whole class can see it.  Give students an audience grade to ensure quiet attention.  Modify presentation requirements for extremely shy or disabled students, but keep expectations high: everyone must show their work and speak!

Student Instructions

Show a final painting alongside the printout that inspired you.  Explain your process.  How did you go from inspiration to final product?  Did you copy or imitate or make something completely different? Assign an emotion to the work using the vocabulary of Chinese brushstrokes.  What does your painting say to you?  What does it mean?