Learn about some of the most famous artists, and teach your kiddos to create their own masterpieces with our simple and do-able famous artist art projects.
FAMOUS ARTIST ACTIVITIES FOR KIDS
WHY STUDY FAMOUS ARTISTS?
Studying the artwork of the masters not only influences your artistic style but even improves your skills and decisions when creating your own original work.
It is great for kids to be exposed to different styles of art, experiment with different mediums, and techniques through our famous artist art projects.
Kids may even find an artist or artists whose work they really like and will inspire them to do more of their own art work.
Why is learning about art from the past important?
- Kids who are exposed to art have an appreciation for beauty!
- Kids who study art history feel a connection to the past!
- Art discussions develop critical thinking skills!
- Kids who study art learn about diversity at a young age!
- Art history can inspire curiosity!
DO-ABLE ART ACTIVITIES FOR KIDS
Having the right supplies and having “do-able” art activities can really stop you in your tracks even if you love being creative. That’s why I have put together an incredible resource for you using famous artists in history for inspiration.
FINALLY, YOU WILL BE ABLE TO HELP YOUR KIDS:
- Explore new ways to be creative!
- Find inspiration from famous artworks.
- Create unique works of art!
- Experiment with a variety of art techniques to create one-of-a-kind art.
- Try new ideas that are totally actionable and easy for kids to do (and adults too!).
- Learn more about each famous artist and find out what makes their art unique.
PLUS, get hands-on with neat art techniques and styles even if you aren’t all that crafty or “arty”. Instead it’s all about having fun and encouraging kids to experiment with simple art activities!
With the help of an art education teacher… I have 16 famous artists to share with you! Each artist includes unique art projects to try that are inspiring, engaging, and “do-able”!
Famous artists include Monet, Van Gogh, Matisse, Dali, Pollock, Warhol, Mondrian, Kandinsky, and many more…
FAMOUS ARTISTS FOR KIDS
Learn about some of the most famous artists in history, along with easy and do-able related art projects for kids. Click on the links for full instructions and free printables for each art activity.
Jean-Michel Basquiat began his career as a street and graffiti artist on the streets of New York. Basquiat’s art focused on contrasts, such as wealth versus poverty, and integration versus segregation. He used poetry, drawing, and the written word to express himself in a way that was empowering.
Basquiat painted a lot of self-portraits. In both his portraits and self-portraits, he explores his identity as a man of Latino and African-American lineage.
He used social commentary in his paintings as a tool for identifying with his experiences in the black community, as well as to attack racism and prejudice.
Salvador Dali was a famous Spanish artist who made paintings, sculptures, and films about the dreams he had. This style of art is called surrealism.
Surrealism is an art movement where painters make dream-like scenes and show situations that would be bizarre or impossible in real life. Surrealist images explore the subconscious areas of the mind.
The artwork often makes little sense as it is usually trying to depict a dream or random thoughts.
Dali was also famous for his long curly mustache. He liked to dress in crazy clothes and have long hair, which people found very shocking at the time.
Have some fun creating this face sculpture with a simple dough, inspired by a photo of Salvador Dali called Cyclops.
Maurits Cornelis Escher was a Dutch graphic artist born in 1898 who made mathematically inspired woodcuts, lithographs, and mezzotints.
He was also a draftsman, book illustrator, tapestry designer, and muralist, but his main work was as a printmaker. He became known for his detailed realistic prints that achieved bizarre optical and conceptual effects.
MC Escher is known as a master of tessellation artwork. Tessellations are connected patterns made of repeating shapes that cover a surface completely without overlapping or leaving any holes.
For example, a checkerboard is a tessellation comprised of alternating colored squares. The squares meet with no overlapping and can be extended on a surface forever.
Frida Kahlo was a Mexican painter best known for her self portraits. She loved to include elements from Mexican culture in her artwork like bright colors and images from nature.
Frida was disabled by polio as a child but was still planning to go to school to become a doctor. However, at the age of 18, she was hit by a bus, which caused her lifelong pain and medical problems.
While she was recovering, she returned to her childhood interest in art. In the hospital, her mother provided her with a specially-made easel, which allowed her to paint in bed, and her father let her borrow some of his oil paints. She had a mirror placed above the easel so that she could see herself.
Wassily Kandinsky is a famous artist born in 1866 in Russia, and who then lived in Germany and France.
Kandinsky is often credited with being the pioneer of abstract art. Abstract art makes changes to shape, form, color, and line to create art that doesn’t look like anything recognizable.
Artists like Kandinsky use art to express their feelings and emotions, usually through bold use of line and color.
Kandinsky circles are a great example of abstract art. Kandinsky used a grid composition and within each square he painted concentric circles, meaning that the circles share a central point.
He believed the circle had symbolic significance relating to the mysteries of the cosmos, and he used it as an abstract form.
Create your own concentric circles art with one of these Kandinsky art projects.
- Kandinsky circles
- Kandinsky tree
- Kandinsky hearts
- Kandinsky Christmas ornaments
- Newspaper art
- Torn paper art
HILMA AF KLINT
Born in 1862 in Sweden, Hilma Af Klint’s art is considered to be some of the earliest ever works created in an abstract or modern style. A lot of her work even predates artists, Wassily Kandinsky and Piet Mondrian.
The style and designs of her artwork were based on her mystic spiritual beliefs. Klint created bold and colorful paintings that were not recognizable as anything from the physical world.
Abstract art is a form of art that uses shapes, form, color, and line to create art that looks less or not at all like anything recognizable. Artists like Klint use art to express feelings and emotions, or beliefs usually through bold use of line and color.
Klint thought that her work was ground breaking and that it would be hard to understand. Because of this, she asked that her artwork not be shown to the public until at least 20 years after she died.
However, it’s only in recent years that Hilma Af Klint’s work has been given the attention it deserves.
Create your own abstract art in the style of Hilma Af Klint.
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Yayoi Kusama is a Japanese artist who is talented in SO many areas of art! She works in sculpture, painting, performance, video, fashion, poetry, and writing!
Born in 1929 in rural Japan, Kusama had a difficult childhood and says that making art has saved her life. Learn from Kusama how art can help people overcome adversity.
Kusama is known in the art world as the “Princess of Polka Dots”. Her polka dot themed art began when she was young, when Kusama would see dots in her dreams.
Kusama lived in New York City in the late 50’s and 60’s, during the Pop Art movement. But she became increasingly frustrated with male artists receiving fame for her ideas. In the 1970’s she moved back to Japan.
It is only recently that her work has received recognition through the rise of social media. Later in life, Kusama is now one of the best selling female artists of all time.
American artist, Roy Lichtenstein is well known for his use of cartoon strips, that were very popular in the 1950s, in his artwork. Lichtenstein admired the skill of comic book artists, who could create complicated stories of love and war in cartoon form.
Along with other great artists like Andy Warhol, Lichtenstein became a leading figure in the pop art movement.
Famous artist, Henri Matisse was born in France in 1869. Matisse was a draughtsman, printer and sculptor, but he is primarily known as a painter.
Along with Pablo Picasso, Matisse is said to have had a profound influence on the development of modern art. He developed a style that is recognizable for its use of intense colors, repeatable patterns and flattened forms.
At the end of his life, Matisse began creating compositions using cut paper. He learnt how to draw with scissors after some health issues left him confined to a wheelchair, and his restricted movement made it too difficult for him to paint.
Matisse used brightly colored paper and scissors to cut out shapes, animals, leaves, dancers and flowers. Then he would direct his assistants in arranging the composition.
Larger arrangements were placed directly onto the walls of his studio, and reconfigured until he was happy with the placement.
Piet Mondrian is a Dutch artist best known for his abstract paintings. Mondrian is celebrated as a founder of De Stijl, a Dutch art movement of artists and architects.
Although he is best known for his abstract paintings made from squares and rectangles, Piet Mondrian started out painting realistic scenes. He especially like painting trees.
The influence of Mondrian’s art can be seen in many other things – from furniture to fashion.
Claude Monet was a French artist who loved to draw as a child. Monet’s use of light in his artwork was unique as he tried to capture the changing colors of light. He used a wide range of vibrant colors and painted quickly using short brushstrokes.
Monet was considered an impressionist. Impressionism is a style of painting that began in France in the early 1860’s when artists started painting art outside rather than in the studio.
They wanted to capture specific moments in time, and because the light conditions kept changing they had to work very quickly.
Impressionists were not trying to capture a picture of real life but rather an impression of what the person, object, atmosphere, landscape looked like to them at that time.
Have a turn at creating your own Monet impressionist art with this Monet sunflower activity.
Grandma Moses, who’s real name was Anna Mary Robertson Moses was born in 1860. She was an American folk artist who did not start painting until she was 78 years old! Though she was interested in art as a little girl, her mother encouraged her to spend her time in other ways.
When her husband passed away Grandma Moses tried to distract herself with a form of sewing called ‘embroidery’. However, her arthritis made sewing difficult. Her family suggested she take up painting as an alternative hobby.
Most of her works were images of simple farm life and the rural countryside of her home in New York state. This type of art is known as primitive art because Grandma Moses was self-taught.
Create your own primitive winter art with Grandma Moses.
Georgia O’Keeffe was an American artist who lived from 1887 to 1986. She was known for her paintings of enlarged flowers, New York skyscrapers, and New Mexico landscapes.
O’Keeffe painted nature in a way that showed how it made her feel. She is recognized as a pioneer of American modernism.
Though she painted mostly in oils, O’Keeffe experimented with multiple mediums throughout her career, including charcoal, watercolors and pastels. But pastels would be the only medium along with oils that she used regularly over the years.
Pastels give you the opportunity to blur or harden edges. O’Keeffe’s fingerprints were often visible in her pastel paintings showing that she would firmly press the pigment into the paper.
Pablo Picasso was a painter, sculptor, printmaker, and ceramicist born in 1881 in Malaga, Spain. He spent most of his adult life working as an artist in France, and died in 1973.
Picasso is one of the most important artists in modern art. During his career, he created more than 20,000 paintings, drawings, sculptures, and ceramics. He is famous for the variety of styles that he helped develop, such as cubism and collage.
Picasso brought different views of subjects (usually objects or figures) together in the same picture, resulting in paintings that appear fragmented and abstracted.
The objects would be formed using cubes and other geometric shapes. This is why it is called cubism.
Create your own fun cubist art inspired by Picasso with one of these art projects.
Famous American artist, Jackson Pollock was often called the Father of Action Painting. Pollock had a special style of painting where he dripped paint onto large canvases on the floor.
This way of painting was called action painting because Pollock would move very quickly across the painting, pouring and splattering the paint in drips and in long, messy lines.
Sometimes he threw the paint onto the canvas – and some of his paintings still have footprints on them from when he stepped in the paint
Create your own fun and unique abstract art using action painting techniques.
- Splatter Painting
- Painting With Marbles
- Shamrock Painting
- Crazy Hair Painting
- Fish Painting
- Marble Bat Art
- Pollock Snowflake Art
Georges Seurat was a famous French painter born in 1859. He was born into a wealthy family, so he was able to spend his life as an artist without having to worry about finances.
He originally followed a traditional path in the art world but then began to create pieces using a new art technique later called pointillism.
Seurat found that instead of mixing the colors of paint on a palette, he could paint tiny dots of different colors next to each other on the canvas and the eye would mix the colors.
He called this way of painting Divisionism. Today we call it Pointillism.
His paintings worked like computer monitors work today. His dots were like the pixels on a computer screen. During his career, Seurat showed a strong interest in the intellectual and scientific methods of art.
Pointillism is a fun method for children to try, especially because it’s easy to do, and requires just a few simple materials.
Lorna Simpson is a significant African-American artist, who lives and works in New York. She has become known for her unique artworks that combine photographs with words.
Simpson uses photography, video and collage to question and challenge ideas about women, culture and race, especially representing the experiences of African-Americans.
Collage is an art technique which brings together different things to create a new whole.
A collage can include magazine and newspaper clippings, ribbons, paint, bits of colored or handmade papers, words, photographs and other found objects, glued to a piece of paper or canvas.
Collage is a great way to explore art because of the freedom it gives to tell stories through it. Kids can add personal items as well as traditional materials to create their own collage. Get kids thinking and experimenting with visual storytelling.
Create a fun and unique collage with this Lorna Simpson art project.
Alma Thomas was an African-American artist born in Georgia. In 1907 her family moved to Washington, D.C., seeking relief from the racial violence in the South.
Thomas was a creative child who always had an interest in art. As a girl, Thomas dreamed of being an architect and building bridges but there were few women architects a century ago. Instead, she began a 35 year career teaching art at a D.C. junior high school.
Her style of painting included large abstract paintings filled with dense patterns of bright colors that almost mimic a mosaic pattern. Alma Thomas was an artist who loved to smile and to paint with bright colors that made her paintings look happy and vibrant.
Create your own colorful artwork with one of these Alma Thomas inspired art projects,
VINCENT VAN GOGH
Vincent van Gogh was born in the Netherlands in 1853. He is one of the world’s most famous painters, but when he was alive, he was not very famous at all.
Van Gogh used painting as a way to express his emotions. He once said “If you truly love Nature, you will find beauty everywhere.”
He was most famous for his paintings titled Starry Night, The Bedroom, Irises and Sunflowers.
Have fun with these art projects…
In the late 1950s and early 1960s, a cultural revolution was happening, led by activists, thinkers, and artists who wanted to change what they felt was a very rigid style of society.
These artists began to look for inspiration and materials from what was around them. They made art using everyday items, consumer goods, and media images. This movement was called Pop Art from the term Popular Culture.
American artist Andy Warhol was an artist, film director, and producer who was a leading figure in the visual art movement known as pop art.
He often used bold primary colors in his work, often straight from the can or tube of paint. These bright colors offered the ability to grab attention quickly.
Try your hand at your own Warhol inspired art.
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ENJOY ART WITH FAMOUS ARTISTS FOR KIDS
Looking for ideas for holiday or seasonal art projects for kids? Click on the images below for more fun and do-able theme art activities.