Art-Making Activity: Gratitude Reflection Painting

Lin Emery (American, b. 1926), Wave, 1988, Polished aluminum, Gift of the Frederick R. Weisman Company, 88.365

Louisiana artist Lin Emery creates kinetic sculptures from reflective materials. Wave, installed in the Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden, relies on forces of nature—wind and gravity—to go with the flow. 

In a play on the reflective nature of Wave, this activity asks you to reflect on the things that inspire gratitude for you. Before you begin, reflect on these things and hold them in your head or write them down in a gratitude list.


  • Ruler
  • Scissors
  • Watercolor paper or thicker white paper
  • Pencil
  • Ballpoint pen
  • Crayon(s)
  • Watercolor set and brush
  • Optional: Glue or tape, construction paper


Measure and cut your watercolor paper or thick white paper into a square. On this paper, draw a spiral in pencil. Make it big! Take up the whole sheet of paper.

Within the lines of the spiral, write down your gratitude list using a ballpoint pen. Full sentences or list style—the choice is yours!

Trace over the penciled spiral lines with a crayon. You can use one color for the entire spiral or change colors.

Using watercolors, paint over your words. Paint slowly so that you can re-read the things that you are thankful for. The crayon will resist the paint, adding a bit of texture, so don’t worry about painting between the lines.

Set your painting aside to dry.

When dry, if you like, create a frame for your painting by gluing or taping it to a larger piece of construction paper.

Hang it up where you can see it daily to remember the things that inspire gratitude.