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ESL Lesson Plan: Exploring Art Through Phrasal Verbs

Updated: Aug 13, 2023

Exploring Art Through Phrasal Verbs: Bringing Out Creativity

Art has a unique way of bringing out emotions, stories, and perspectives that are often beyond the reach of mere words. Just as artists use various mediums to convey their ideas, language too can be a canvas where phrasal verbs add depth and dimension to our understanding of art. In this blog, we'll embark on a creative journey through the world of art using a palette of phrasal verbs that will help us sketch out vivid scenes, flesh out intricate details, and set off sparks of inspiration.

Bringing Out: Unveiling Creativity When artists bring out their works, they unveil a piece of their soul to the world. The act of presenting their creations is akin to casting a spotlight on their imagination. Just as a director brings out the cast for a play, artists bring out their masterpieces onto the stage of appreciation. Whether it's an art gallery's grand opening or the reveal of a new mural in a public space, bringing out art captures the excitement of a moment frozen in time. Example: The artist brought out her latest collection, each canvas telling a different story. Exercise: Describe a scenario where an artist brings out their work for the first time, capturing the emotions and reactions of the audience.

Sketching Out: From Vision to Reality Just as an artist sketches out the initial outlines of a masterpiece, writers sketch out ideas on paper. To sketch out is to give form to the abstract, to transform a vague notion into a tangible concept. Just as an architect sketches out blueprints, artists sketch out drafts, converting the whispers of inspiration into the brushstrokes of reality. Example: Before diving into the intricate details, the illustrator sketched out a rough composition of the book cover. Exercise: Imagine a scenario where an artist sketches out their vision for a mural on a city wall, incorporating elements of the urban landscape.

Fleshing Out: Adding Depth and Meaning Artists don't merely create; they breathe life into their works by fleshing out the details. To flesh out is to imbue substance and emotion into something, transforming the superficial into the profound. Just as a novelist fleshes out characters, a sculptor fleshes out the contours of clay. Through this phrasal verb, artists weave layers of complexity, inviting the viewer to dive deeper. Example: The painter spent hours fleshing out the features of the subject, each brushstroke revealing a new facet of their personality. Exercise: Describe a scenario where an artist is fleshing out a landscape painting, adding intricate textures and shades to the scenery.

Setting Off: Enhancing the Visual Symphony Just as a frame sets off a painting, the right environment sets off art. To set off is to create contrast, highlighting the beauty of an object against its surroundings. Just as a jewel sparkles against a dark backdrop, art shines its brightest when placed in a fitting context. By setting off their creations, artists emphasize the vibrancy and uniqueness of their work. Example: The minimalist gallery setting sets off the dazzling colors of the abstract painting, creating an impactful visual contrast. Exercise: Describe how a specific type of lighting can set off the intricate details of a sculpture, creating mesmerizing shadows and highlights.

Taking In: Embracing the Visual Symphony Just as we take in a breathtaking view, we can also take in art with all our senses. To take in is to absorb, appreciate, and comprehend the entirety of an artwork. When we take in a painting, sculpture, or installation, we let it envelop our consciousness, allowing its essence to seep into our thoughts and emotions. Example: As I stood before the masterpiece, I took in every stroke of color, every curve of the composition, and felt the artist's intent wash over me. Exercise: Imagine standing before a renowned artwork and describe the experience of taking in its beauty, connecting with the artist's message.

Art is a language of emotions and ideas, and just like any language, it thrives through its unique expressions. Phrasal verbs serve as powerful tools to convey the intricate nuances of the artistic process, from bringing out initial inspiration to taking in the final masterpiece. As you delve into the world of art, remember that these phrasal verbs are more than mere words; they are strokes on the canvas of language that enhance our understanding of the beauty that artists create.

1. Bring out

  • Meaning: To introduce or present something, often a new product or creative work, to the public.

  • Examples:

    1. The artist plans to bring out her latest collection at the upcoming gallery opening.

    2. The museum is bringing out a new exhibition showcasing local talent.

Exercise Ideas:

  1. Complete the sentence: The author is excited to bring out his new novel at the book launch event.

  2. Rewrite the sentence using the phrasal verb: The fashion designer will introduce his latest creations at the fashion show.

2. Sketch out

  • Meaning: To create a rough or preliminary version of something, like a drawing or design.

  • Examples:

    1. She quickly sketched out her ideas for the mural before starting the detailed painting.

    2. The architect sketched out the initial plans for the new art center.

Exercise Ideas:

  1. Use "sketch out" in a sentence to describe the process of creating a basic outline for a painting.

  2. Replace the phrase "create a preliminary version" with "sketch out" in the sentence: The graphic designer needs to create a preliminary version of the logo design.

3. Flesh out

  • Meaning: To add details and substance to something, making it more complete or substantial.

  • Examples:

    1. The writer needs to flesh out the characters in the story to make them more relatable.

    2. The sculptor is working on fleshing out the clay model into a lifelike sculpture.

Exercise Ideas:

  1. Describe the process of turning a basic concept into a fully developed artwork using the phrasal verb "flesh out."

  2. Rewrite the sentence: The playwright is adding more depth to the dialogue to make the script more compelling.

4. Set off

  • Meaning: To enhance or highlight something by placing it against a contrasting background or context.

  • Examples:

    1. The gold frame sets off the vibrant colors of the painting.

    2. The minimalist design of the room sets off the intricate details of the sculpture.

Exercise Ideas:

  1. Explain how choosing the right frame can set off the colors in a painting.

  2. Replace "enhance" with "set off" in the sentence: The dark background really enhances the beauty of the artwork.

5. Take in

  • Meaning: To appreciate or comprehend the full extent or meaning of something, often visually or intellectually.

  • Examples:

    1. When you take in the panoramic view, you can see the entire city skyline.

    2. It takes time to take in all the intricate details of this masterpiece.

Exercise Ideas:

  1. Write a sentence that illustrates the idea of someone needing a moment to fully take in the beauty of a complex sculpture.

  2. Express the idea of understanding the full significance of an abstract painting using the phrasal verb "take in."

6. Show off:

  • Meaning: To proudly display or exhibit something to others.

  • Examples:

    1. The artist couldn't wait to show off their latest artwork at the upcoming gallery opening.

    2. The museum is hosting an event where local artists can show off their creations to the community.


  1. Create a dialogue between an artist and a friend in which the artist talks about their excitement to show off their new artwork.

  2. Write a short paragraph about an art competition where participants are eager to show off their skills and creativity.

7. Stand out:

  • Meaning: To be easily noticeable or distinct from the surroundings.

  • Examples:

    1. Among the collection of landscapes, the abstract painting stood out with its bold colors and geometric shapes.

    2. The sculpture's unique use of materials and textures made it stand out in the gallery.


  1. Imagine you're describing an art exhibition to a friend. Write a sentence about an artwork that stood out the most to you.

  2. In a short paragraph, explain why it's important for an artist's work to stand out in a competitive art market.

8. Set up:

  • Meaning: To arrange or assemble something, often referring to an exhibit or display.

  • Examples:

    1. The team worked tirelessly to set up the multimedia installation before the art show's opening night.

    2. Artists from various backgrounds collaborated to set up a pop-up gallery in an empty warehouse.


  1. Write a step-by-step guide on how to set up an art exhibition, including considerations for lighting, arrangement, and signage.

  2. Imagine you're a curator describing the process of setting up an outdoor sculpture exhibition. Write a paragraph about the challenges involved.

Evolving Colors: A Modern Korean Art Journey, A Short Story

In the heart of bustling Seoul, a nondescript building stood adorned with vibrant splashes of color that seemed to burst forth from the walls. This was the atelier of Ji-won, a talented young artist who was on a quest to bring out the essence of modern Korean art.

One morning, Ji-won was meticulously sketching out her latest creation, a canvas that would encapsulate the beauty of traditional Korean landscapes within a contemporary frame. She believed in fleshing out her art with meaningful strokes, just as a novelist crafts characters with depth and intricacy. With each brushstroke, she breathed life into the rolling hills and serene temples that were etched into her imagination.

As Ji-won's work began to take shape, she realized that her creation needed the perfect setting to set off its brilliance. She decided to showcase her masterpiece at a gallery renowned for its minimalistic ambiance. The stark white walls would set off the rich hues of her painting, enhancing the viewer's experience and allowing them to take in every nuance of her work.

The day of the exhibition arrived, and Ji-won's heart raced as she brought out her painting, revealing it to the world for the first time. The gallery buzzed with anticipation, and as the guests started to arrive, their gasps of awe echoed through the room. Ji-won felt a sense of pride, knowing that her art was successfully bringing out emotions she had poured into it.

One guest, a foreign art collector, stood before Ji-won's painting, seemingly taking in every detail. He later approached her, his eyes reflecting admiration. "Your art took me in," he said with a warm smile. "I felt as if I was standing amidst those landscapes, breathing the same air." Ji-won's heart swelled with happiness, knowing that her mission to capture the spirit of modern Korean art had been achieved.

In the world of modern Korean art, Ji-won's work continued to evolve, capturing the essence of the past while embracing the pulse of the present. Her creations not only brought out the beauty of her homeland but also set off a wave of appreciation for the harmonious fusion of tradition and innovation. And as art enthusiasts from around the world took in the captivating scenes she painted, they were transported to the landscapes of Korea, where colors told stories and emotions danced on canvas.

Easy ESL Art Phrasal verbs:

Here are some easy phrasal verbs suitable for ESL artists, along with their meanings, examples, and exercises:

Set up:

  • Meaning: To arrange or prepare something.

  • Examples:

    1. The artist set up their easel and paints in the park to capture the beautiful scenery.

    2. We need to set up the gallery space for the upcoming art exhibition.


  1. Describe how you would set up your art supplies for a plein air painting session.

  2. Imagine you're hosting a small art event. Write a list of tasks required to set up the venue.

Show off:

  • Meaning: To proudly display something.

  • Examples:

    1. The young artist was excited to show off their drawings to their classmates.

    2. At the art show, participants had a chance to show off their creations to the community.


  1. Write a short paragraph about a time when you felt proud to show off your artwork to others.

  2. Imagine you're an artist at an open studio event. Describe how you would show off your portfolio to visitors.

Work on:

  • Meaning: To spend time improving or creating something.

  • Examples:

    1. The sculptor is currently working on a statue that will be displayed in the town square.

    2. She's been working on her painting techniques by practicing every day.


  1. Describe a project you're currently working on and how you plan to work on it over the next few weeks.

  2. Imagine you're giving advice to a fellow artist who wants to improve their skills. Write three tips on how to effectively work on their craft.

Bring in:

  • Meaning: To introduce or incorporate something new.

  • Examples:

    1. The artist decided to bring in elements of nature by using real leaves in the collage.

    2. She wants to bring in more colors and textures to make her artwork more vibrant.


  1. Choose a piece of your artwork and brainstorm how you could bring in elements from your daily life to make it more personal.

  2. Write a short paragraph about how you would bring in cultural diversity into your art to reflect your heritage.

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