Create your own colorful painting inspired by famous Japanese artist, Hokusai Katsushika’s The Great Wave print. Find out why this is one of the most well known artworks from Japan. Enjoy a totally do-able wave art project for younger and older kids too! Grab watercolors or markers, and the free printable The Great Wave outline below!


Who Is Hokusai Katsushika?

Hokusai Katsushika lived from 1760 to 1849, and was one of the greatest Japanese woodblock printmakers, painters and book illustrators.

Hokusai began painting when he was 6 years old, and when he was 12 he went to work in a bookstore. At 16, he became an engraver’s apprentice, during which he began to create his own illustrations.

At 18, Hokusai was accepted as an apprentice to artist Katsukawa Shunshō, one of the greatest ukiyo-e artists of his time. Later on, Hokusai studied Japanese and Chinese styles, as well as some Dutch and French paintings on his own.

Hokusai’s work influenced many European artists. His prints began to circulate widely through Europe and The Great Wave became a source of inspiration for various artists, including impressionist painter Vincent van Gogh.

The Great Wave

Hokusai’s “The Great Wave off Kanagawa”, created in late 1831 is one of the most famous artworks from Japan. The print is Hokusai’s best-known work and the first in his series, Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji. 

In this artwork, we see a massive wave rising high above a group of boats, with Mount Fuji in the background. Mt Fuji is a dormant volcano, and the highest mountain in Japan, located on the Pacific Ocean coast.

The wave looks powerful and scary, as if it might crash down on the boats at any moment. At the same time, Mount Fuji adds a sense of calmness and beauty to the scene.

The use of vivid colors and bold lines makes the painting come alive, and it feels like we are right there, witnessing the dramatic moment. This was made possible with Hokusai’s use of a new pigment at the time, Prussian Blue.

Create your own variation of The Great Wave with watercolors and cardstock. Think about what blues you want to use! Make sure to grab the free printable art project and templates to get started!

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 artwork.

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!

Get your FREE printable art project!

Get this free Hokusai artist project with an easy to use Great Wave outline!

The Great Wave Art Project


  • Templates
  • Scissors
  • Card stock
  • Glue stick
  • Watercolors
  • White paint


STEP 1: Print the wave, boats, and mountain templates.


STEP 2: Paint the wave, boat and mountain with anyway you like and then cut them out with scissors.

TIP: Want to make your own watercolors? Check out our easy DIY watercolors.


STEP 3: Glue them to your card stock.


STEP 4: Use a paintbrush to splatter white paint onto the waves, to simulate the sea foam in the ocean.


Tip: You only need a small amount of splatter. Check out more splatter painting ideas!


More Fun Artist Inspired Projects To Try

Helpful Art Resources To Get You Started

Here are a few resources to help you introduce art more effectively to your kids or students and feel confident when presenting materials. You’ll find helpful free printables throughout.

Printable Famous Artist Pack

You’ll find each of our famous artists featured in our Famous Artists Project Pack 👇  including a bonus Andy Warhol Coloring Book!

25+ artists and growing with unique projects not available on the website!