Wayne Thiebaud cupcake and ice cream art lesson

Wayne Thiebaud Inspired Delicious Desserts Art Lesson

Student holding oil pastel cupcake art lesson


One of my favorite art lessons that I have taught over the last decade (omg I feel so old saying that!) is my take on the delicious art of American painted, Wayne Thiebaud. If you've been on Pinterest for longer than 8 seconds you are likely to see tons of art lesson inspired by Thiebaud, and it's no wonder! What kid doesn't want to learn about an artist who has a huge focus on painting delicious desserts?! The best part about teaching kids about Wayne Thiebaud is that it's the perfect way to sneak in teaching about form and value without boring them to tears. Want your kids to learn how to draw a cylinder? Great- teach them how to draw a round cake. Want to teach them how to draw a sphere? Teach them how to draw and shade a cherry instead.. and the list goes on! 

Ice cream cone shaded in graphite art lesson   

There is something so empowering to a kid when they learn how to shade their art to make it look more 3D and realistic. They instantly feel more confident and proud of their artistic abilities.  It's pretty magical TBH. 

wayne thiebaud art lesson ice cream

I love this project because you only need black paper (Tru-ray or bust) and oil pastels to get these dynamic and vibrant results! My all time FAVORITE oil pastels are hands down the 28 pack of Crayola Oil Pastels. The colors are vibrant, opaque and the consistency is so creamy and dreamy. They blend so well and just POP against the black paper.

When I teach my students I like to offer a delicate balance of skill building while also allowing choice. Admittedly though, when I first started teaching this lesson I allowed for a bit too much choice if I wanted them to also maintain the quality and craftsmanship of their work. This made formal instruction tricky at times, because many kids will want to do a project that I haven't demoed all the steps for- and then I run around like a chicken with my head cut off showing individual demos and that is.... alot. 

cupcake art lesson wayne thiebaud

Thankfully, I did eventually wise up and began offering 4 different subject options: A cupcake trio, an ice cream cone trio, a full cake and a cake slice trio, as well as creating an extensive Tasty Treats drawing guide laying out directed drawing steps. 

Now I'm excited to share that I have FINALLY created a complete lesson laying out EVERYTHING that will hopefully leave you with zero guess work. Now because each of these lesson demos are so extensive (I provide step by step instruction as well as video for how to draw each of the desserts),  I decided to split this mega lesson that I typically do with my kids into two smaller lessons. The first being Cupcakes and Ice Cream, and the second is Cakes and cake slices (this is not available yet, but will be soon!) You can find my full oil pastel cupcakes and ice cream lesson here! 

 wayne thiebaud art lesson display  wayne thiebaud art lesson bakery display ice cream cone art lesson wayne thiebaud

Last year, I had my 5th grade students each make a 2D drawing using oil pastels of their sweet treat of choice, and then create a clay cakes and cupcakes to accompany their work. Once all of our Thiebaud inspired projects were finished, I turned a few showcases into a little bakery display. You could see my students absolutely BEAMING from miles away when they saw their work displayed in this special little space. 

Have you taught Wayne Thiebaud to your students yet? If you haven't I encourage you to give it a shot, your students will thank you later! 

 Grab my Delicious Dessert oil pastels lesson in it's entirety here! 
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