Lesson Objectives:  Students will learn value while painting flamingos.

Time Required: 1 hour

Artist: John James Audubon, American Flamingo, 1838


Source: 365 Things to Draw and Paint, pages 118-119


Sketch paper

9×12 white construction paper or watercolor paper

Tempera paint: pink, white, brown, blue


Paper plates or paint trays

Water and cups

Black Sharpies 


Discuss value. The more light there is in a color, the higher in value it is. (lighter color). The less light there is in a color, the lower in value it is. (darker color).  Show how Audubon uses value in his painting. Discuss the features of a flamingo.


  1. Pass out paper. Write names on back. Orient horizontally.
  2. With pencil, draw a line along the bottom of the page for where the water will be. Add a small sand bar as well.
  3. Give each student a paper plate with a blob of white paint on it. Add a drop of pink paint and some water to create a very light, almost white, watery paint mixture.
  4. Dip brush into the paint.
  5. Have the students practice making flamingos on sketch paper: brush a backwards “S” shape for the flamingo’s neck. Paint the head and several curved lines for the body.
  6. Now make a flamingo on their actual page.
  7. Add another drop of pink paint to their mix and stir it to get a slightly darker pink. Dip in the paintbrush and then rub it on the bar of soap.
  8. Make another flamingo or 2.
  9. Continue in this way adding another drop of pink paint each time so that the flamingos are all different values of pink. Pass out pure pink paint for the last flamingo.
  10. Play with different poses along the way: different curvatures of the flamingos’ necks, some flying, some sleeping, etc.
  11. Pass out the blue paint to paint the water in the same way they did the flamingos: mix with white for a few different values, dip in the soap, and paint the water. (Flip the bar of soap over so it won’t mix with the pink). Do the same with the brown for the sand bar.
  12. Add legs, beaks, and eyes with black Sharpies.