Still Painting Provocations

“Put simply, provocations provoke! They provoke thoughts, discussions, questions, interests, creativity and ideas. They can also expand on a thought, project, idea and interest.”

By far one of my most favourite activities for children, and one Sophia loves has to be still art painting with watercolour paints.


I feel painting is a way for children to do many important things: convey ideas, express emotion, use their senses, explore color, explore process and outcomes, and create aesthetically pleasing works and experiences.

A still life is an artwork that features inanimate objects—natural things like flowers, fruit, and vegetables or manufactured objects like coins, jewelry, musical instruments, and bottles and glasses, for example. Examples of still life paintings go back to antiquity in Egyptian tombs and on Grecian urns and vases.

In the Middle Ages and Renaissance, still life paintings often reflected spiritual values and gifts from the Almighty. Images of flowers and insects carried symbolic meanings including lilies (purity), tulips (nobility), sunflowers (faithfulness), violets (humility), and poppies (sleep or death). Butterflies represented transformation, and bees hard work and cooperation.


This is a different kind of experience that I believe brings additional value to their drawing experience as it challenges their understanding and ability to look at the finer details of everyday objects in their environment


I am completely captured by the ways in which educators set up painting provocations for children. In this post I have decided to feature some of beautiful provocations in still art painting.

fec619ab2be8247d73c034549f11159bPainting sunflowers: Provocation using real flowers, plastic flowers, and other examples @ Kinderoo Children’s Academy

  • Watercolor paint
  • Watercolor brushes
  • Watercolor paper (if you don’t have watercolor paper, heavy drawing paper will do as long as it  won’t soak through as you work on it.)
  • Black (waterproof) India ink (to outline to add contrast if you want)
  • Water & containers
  • Chalk pastel, oil pastels, charcoal
  • Still life subject matter
  • Newspapers or plastic tablecloths as protection for work surfaces

3020f5fd006b71c8ad56c046adc6c36bFrom Opal School Blog

It’s so interesting to look at objects through the eyes of a child.


d8d3398c78ac13ef723fb3f1dc146393From Ms. Guillory Preschool & Kindergarten Art

Getting Started
  • Set up your still life-set out a bouquet of flowers in a vase, paper, and some crayons/paint/watercolor.
  • Discuss with children how they can select a flower and take it out to observe it or leave it in the vase to paint
  • Share briefly the lines and shapes seen in a flower. Direct children’s attention to some of the finer details of the flowers
  • Observe children as they mix and represent their flower with the paints


I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way – things I had no words for.
-Georgia O’Keeffe


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