Franz Marc “Blue Horse” Hand Painting
Year Levels: Foundation – 2
with Emma Hewett-Smiles
Click Here to download Lesson Plan
In this activity, students will use the iconic artwork, ‘The Blue Horse’ by Franz Marc as inspiration to create their own painting. Students will experiment with mark-making and using colour in their artworks; while considering how different colours evoke particular feelings, emotions and memories.
This activity is based on the 1911 painting by German Expressionist artist Franz Marc entitled
“The Blue Horse”.
To begin the activity discuss that Franz Marc was captivated by the study of animals. Not only was he fascinated by their anatomy and environment, but also by their rich inner worlds.
Tell children that each painting of his animal subjects is deeply emotional. This is not only due to Marc’s extensive knowledge of animal anatomy, but also because of his remarkable use of colour. Ask children what colours has Marc used in The Blue Horse in the background? (red to symbolise blood shed and yellow representing joy)
Explain that as Marc outlined in a letter in 1910, “Blue is the masculine principle, astringent and spiritual. Yellow the female principle, gentle, gay and sensuous. Red is matter, brutal and heavy and always the colour that the other two must oppose and overcome!”
Look at “Blue Horse”, and the way the young masculine horse tilts his head, as if in sensitive contemplation. He appears innocent and youthful. Franz Marc chose animal subjects for his paintings because to him, they represented innocence, an existence before the fall of Eden. Horses especially represented a freedom and purity of spirit.
Read children the book “The Artist who Painted the Blue Horse” by Eric Carle (2011), or you could watch the audio/visual version on YouTube (there are many versions online).
Art Elements & Principles
Colour and Space
Cross-Curriculum / Capabilities Links
Personal and Social capability (self awareness and management) & Science (biological science)
Explore the use of colour to express emotions in art
Make a printed hand painting using Franz Marc’s The Blue Horse as inspiration
Consider the use of colour to express emotion in art and the importance of having a horizon line to separate the sky from the earth and give perspective
Discuss the anatomy of a horse (head, tail, long neck, mane, four legs) and the representation of freedom in the symbol of the horse
Step 1: After reading the book or viewing it online, begin drawing a background onto a piece of A4 paper
(you can really use any size paper you wish, and most plain white paper types will be fine).
Step 2: Discuss what the horizon line is, and that it divides the sky from the ground. You might look outside to emphasize this point. Ask children to select colours they feel will elicit an emotional response from the viewer e.g. yellow for happiness, blue for sadness. Draw sky, mountains and grass using the horizon line as discussed.
Step 3: Paint the earth using browns, greens or any earthy toned paints.
Step 4: Add a handprint using blue paint. Dip your hand into blue paint (ensure the whole palm is covered), then lightly press your handprint, upside down, onto the page (fingers pointing down, as these will represent the legs).
Step 5: When the blue paint has dried, children can add hooves, tails, hair and additional details using a clean brush and black acrylic paint. Let your painting dry.
Step 6: Mount or Display your completed artwork!
Discussion / Reflection
What did you find challenging in making your horse painting? What was easy? What did you enjoy?
How is your painting similar to Franz Marc’s Blue Horse Painting? How is it different?
How have you used colour to express emotion, and which colour did you use?
Materials & Equipment
Acrylic Paint (Blue, Black, Earth colours)
Don’t have these materials at home?
Click Here to view recommended materials
Related Artwork, Links & Sources
Share Your Outcomes!
How did you go!? We’d love you to share your artwork with us on Facebook or Instagram!