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Gross and Gorgeous

6th - 8th Grade

Key Concepts

  1. Close observation is a tool artists and scientists utilize

  2. Gross and gorgeous are nuanced ways of seeing and expressing the world

  3. Jewelry is a way to communicate a message and express ideas.

Essential Questions

  1. In what ways can you observe carefully/ How is close observation reflected in artwork?

  2. What characteristics make something gross or gorgeous?

  3. What is gross? What is gorgeous?

  4. Why would an artist create something some people perceive as gross?

  5. What is the purpose of jewelry?


Students experiment with new ways of observational drawing.


Students compare and contrast paintings in a discussion focused on interpreting artwork.

Featured Artists
Joshua Bonson, an indigenous artist from Australia, shares his heritage through painting

Joshua Bonson

American Painter, most well known for her paintings of natural objects

Georgia O'keeffe

Fiber artist using felt, crochet, and beading to create artwork inspired by fungus and bacteria.

Elin Thomas

Extensively explores the medium of felt creating sculptural and wearable art

Lisa Klakulak

Lesson Overview

Learning Segment 1

madison paings.jpg

A 6th grader practices close observation while adding detail to an acrylic painting. 

Learning Segment 2


Students rate contemporary works of art on the Goss-o-Meter, then analyze what characteristics make them so

Learning Segment 3


A student creates needle felted jewelry inspired by bacteria growing, collected from keyboards in classroom.

  • Students will understand that close and careful observation is a tool that artists and scientists use.

  • Students will interpret the artwork of Georgia O’keefe and Joshua Bonson.

  • Students will utilize a view finder to look up close at objects and create an acrylic painting of what they observe.

  • Students conduct a bacteria growing experiment and make predictions about outcomes.

  • Students will examine concepts of gross and gorgeous. Students will investigate what elements make something gross or gorgeous.

  • Students will examine results of a bacteria growing experiment and use sketches of bacteria to create their own felted art piece.

  • Students will understand that the purpose of felt making has evolved over time.

  • Students will understand that artists have a choice about whether they want to make their art gorgeous or gross. 

  • Students will analyze visual and tactile characteristics of gross and gorgeous.

  • Through student conducted reserach students understand how jewelry’s purpose has evolved over time.

  • Students will create their own piece of wearable art utilizing felting, and embroidery techniques that combine visual and tactile charachteris that bend the concepts of gross and gorgeous.

  • Students will create criteria about what makes a good commercial and create their own to present their finished art piece.    

Learning Support Examples

Understanding Bacteria Presentation

Gross-O-Meter Introduction

3D felting tips handout

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