Now I Can Do It- A lesson plan

Hung Liu (American, born China, 1948). Shoemakers, 1999. Oil on canvas, 80 x 80 in. Crocker Art Museum, Collector’s Guild Purchase, 2000.4


Students create a crayon resist artwork and a brief piece of writing that discusses learning to do something and how they felt about the experience.


About the Artist

Hung Liu finds the subjects for her paintings in the surviving anonymous photographs of China and its people — images taken by foreigners in the early 20th century. Photographs, particularly personal photos, were considered dangerous when the communist government gained control, and they were targeted for destruction during the ensuing Cultural Revolution. Governmental fear of the past ultimately aimed to quash individual identity, foremost by erasing family bonds and centuries-old traditions.

Hung Liu’s fascination with recovered photographs is strongly influenced by her own experiences of separation, loss, and immigration. Her paintings address the cataclysmic changes wrought on China by politics and forced modernization. Familial relationships and humble activities, such as the shoemaking taking place here, are retrieved as if through veiled remembrance. Old meets new in the juxtaposition of icons of Chinese history — its religious and artistic heritage — with the thin washes of paint that dissolve the family portrayed.

While grounded in the Chinese experience, Liu’s paintings ultimately offer a universal meditation on the human condition. A two-time recipient of the painting Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, Liu is a member of the faculty at Mills College in Oakland




Hung Liu’s Shoemakers depicts a family making shoes together.

Think of something you have learned to do because of your family. Is there a craft or food you make together? Is there a game or sport you have practiced with them? Maybe you enjoy music, being outdoors, or another hobby or pastime because of family traditions. Choose one of these experiences to express in your artwork.


Choose one of your ideas. Think about the what, where, how, and who of your idea. Think about how you felt, and how you could show that in a drawing.


  1. Use a pencil to sketch (lightly draw) a scene showing your idea on your white paper. Use all of the space, and avoid leaving large parts of the paper empty.
  2. Use the crayons to color your drawing. Press hard enough to make the colors strong.
  3. Paint the white spaces of your drawing with the watercolors. Using only one or two colors will make your drawing stand out better. Adding a little more water makes the colors lighter. You can paint right up to the crayon parts because the crayon will resist (push away) the watery paint.


Write about your artwork. Think again about the what, where, how, and who of your idea, and how you felt. Help the people who look at your painting understand your art.

Expanding the Lesson

  • Use an autobiographical picture book to introduce the lesson.
  • Devote more time to the narrative writing while still having it follow the art-making.
  • Create a class display of the artwork and writing together.


CA Arts Standards for Visual Arts

ELA/Lit W.K.3: Use a combination of drawing, dictating, and writing to narrate a single event or several loosely linked events, tell about the events in the order in which they occurred, and provide a reaction to what happened.

ELA/Lit W.1.3: Write narratives in which they recount two or more appropriately sequenced events, include some details regarding what happened, use temporal words to signal event order, and provide some sense of closure.

ELA/Lit W.2.3: Write narratives in which they recount a well elaborated event or short sequence of events, include details to describe actions, thoughts, and feelings, use temporal words to signal event order, and provide a sense of closure.

VAPA VA 2.0: Students apply artistic processes and skills, using a variety of media to communicate meaning and intent in original works of art.

PK.VA:Cr2.1 Use a variety of art-making tools
K.VA:Cr2.1 Through experimentation, build skills in various media and approaches to artmaking
1.VA:Cr2.1 Explore uses of materials and tools to create works of art or design
2.VA:Cr2.1 Experiment with various materials and tools to explore personal interests in a work of art or design
3.VA:Cr2.1 Create personally satisfying artwork using a variety of artistic processes and materials
4.VA:Cr2.1 Explore and invent art-making techniques and approaches


Happy and Gay I, 2012, oil on canvas, 60 x 48.

Happy and Gay – Star Family, 2012, oil on canvas, 60 x 72.


  • Cardstock white paper (8.5 x 11)
  • Pencils
  • Crayons
  • Watercolor paints
  • Watercolor paint brushes
  • Writing paper


60 minutes

Grade Level



  • Visual Arts


  • Women Artist
  • Simple Materials
  • Portraits/Self-Portraits
  • People
  • Art Elements
  • Identity
  • Drawing
  • Color


  • Paper
  • Watercolor Paint
  • Pencil
  • Painting
  • Colors


Crocker Art Museum, adapted by Brittany Thurman