PrimaryArt & Design

Alma Thomas lesson plan – Sunny KS1/KS2 art

What's included?

2-page PDF lesson plan

Key Stage

KS1, KS2


Years 1-6


Create bright, vivid solar masterpieces inspired by the artwork of American artist Alma Thomas.

Use the sun as the primary muse for your class in this summery art lesson. Inspired by the artwork of American artist Alma Thomas, your class will create bright, vivid solar masterpieces using her recognisable dash stroke style.

Temperatures inside will soar as the warm colours of red, yellow and orange dance out of the paint palettes, off the paintbrushes and fill the classroom with the heat of a tropical holiday. You might need to pop your sunglasses on…

Learning outcomes

  • Learn that colours can be categorised as warm or cool
  • How to mix up a warm colour palette
  • Find out about the artwork of American artist Alma Thomas. 
  • Represent the sun in your own paintings inspired by Alma Thomas 

Who was Alma Thomas?

Alma Thomas was an American abstract artist. Her works of art are well-known around the world for their clear, characteristic brushstrokes and striking use of bright colours.

She applied short, thick dashes of acrylic paint to large canvases and often used stripes and circles to create her artwork.

Alma’s concentric circle works such as The Eclipse (1970), Resurrection (1960) or Pansies in Washington (1969) – with their rings of bright colour emanating out from central circles, much like the rays of light and warmth shine out from a hot, blistering sun – form the inspiration for this sun painting lesson.

Get started

Begin by talking to your class about warm and cool colours. Refer to a colour wheel to illustrate this aspect of colour theory.

Next, invite pupils to mix up their own fiery colour palettes using only the primary colours of red and yellow. They will need paint palettes or mixing trays, red and yellow ready-mixed paints, and brushes.  

Adele Darlington is an experienced primary teacher and art consultant. She is also the author of 100 Ideas for Primary Teachers: Art, published by Bloomsbury. Browse more KS1 art ideas and KS2 art ideas.

Alma Thomas lesson plan
Alma Thomas lesson plan – Sunny KS1/KS2 art
PrimaryArt & Design

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