If your kids love nothing more than getting messy with paint, introducing them to the techniques and ideas of history's most famous artists is a fantastic way to get them interested in art and design while having lots of creative fun.
From Pablo Picasso's infamous Cubist paintings to Van Gogh's 'A Starry Night', these fun and easy art projects are great to encourage kids to engage with art history. All you need for these simple crafts are some basic craft materials, with the addition of a couple of things you can recycle from around the house.
And, if you're feeling adventurous and want to make a day of artistic activities, you could even try making your own paint! Once you have your materials, you're all set to create some masterpieces.
Top Tip: If you want to really enhance the artist experience and make something a little more durable, try working on a small inexpensive canvas - these are easy to get online and make your art easy to give as a gift or hang up at home!
Mexican artist Frida Kahlo is famous for her inspired self-portraits filled with symbolism and nature. Her portraits often show her head and shoulders, with her body adorned with symbolic objects such as flowers, animals and vines.
Creating your own Frida Kahlo inspired art is easy and can be adapted to suit different ages:
Frida Kahlo Self Portrait: Set up a mirror, paints and paper, and make self-portraits! Start with an 'egg shape' for the head, and let your child fill in their portrait.
Self Portrait (for older kids): This is a similar self-portrait activity, but this time encourage your child to think about symbolism, and how they can incorporate symbols about them into their portrait. For example, if your child loves cooking, they could be holding a wooden spoon, etc.
Vincent Van Gogh
Considered to be one of the great artists in Western art history, Vincent Van Gogh used unique colour and texture in his paintings of himself, his surroundings and the Dutch landscape.
Kids can easily make their very own 'Starry Night' piece using either just paint or multimedia from recycled items around the house. First, draw out a simple line landscape as guidelines. Then, using a paintbrush or crayons, stipple in lines for the sky, stars and landscape. Take a look at some images of the famous painting online or watch videos of stippling and impressionism to helps kids visualise the techniques used by the artist so that they can either copy or create their own version of the painting.
Best known for inventing the artistic technique of pointillism, Georges Seurat and his work are the perfect basis for a fascinating art lesson. Seurat was known for making elaborate paintings only from dots of colour, so when combined they create an image. These kids' art projects make use of this technique and encourage kids to experiment with paint.
Colour In The Lines: Great for younger kids, all you need for this project is a simple line drawing or colouring-in sheet. Encourage your child to fill in their colours only using dots of paint, and watch as the picture unfolds!
Crayon Pointillism Project: Challenge the kids to make a piece of Seurat inspired art using only the end of a crayon (i.e. only small circles, no lines or colouring in).
Recycled Buttons & Bottle Caps: Collect as many buttons and bottle caps as you can, gather them all together and ask the kids to make a picture using only these items!
Hole Punch Art Project: First, punch lots of holes in different coloured paper. Then, empty out the small circles collected in the hole punch, and see what pictures the kids can create from them.
Seurat Inspired Art: Or, for something more simple, just gather some pens or paint and pick an image or item. The kids can then paint a picture of their item (only using dots!).
One of the world's most famous artists, Spanish artist Pablo Picasso pioneered the Cubist movement - painting with lots of geometric shapes and distorted figures.
To create a Picasso inspired art project, you can easily make a cubist work using simple techniques:
Cubist Collage: Print out a couple of copies of a photo you would like to work with. Then, cut it up into triangles and other geometric shapes. Collage these pieces back together to make a Cubist interpretation of your photo!
Still Life Drawing: This art project can be made using paint or pencil. Decide on an object for your still life, then break the page up into geometric shapes using a ruler. Now, in each shape, draw a section of your object. When you move onto the next shape, change the angle you are looking from. Continue changing angles and filling in shapes until you have a Picasso-esque Cubist piece of art!
American abstract painter Jackson Pollock inspired a whole art movement due to his famous 'drip technique' of pouring paint on to a canvas. While Pollock is seen as one of the most accomplished and great artists of all time, his techniques are super easy to adapt to create fun art projects for kids.
Top Tip: It is lots of fun to create your very own piece of Pollock inspired art, however, be prepared for a little mess! We recommend you put down a sheet of newspaper or do this activity outside, depending on the scale of your project.
To make your Jackson Pollock 'splatter' art project you will need a white piece of paper/ card/ canvas, paints, and paintbrushes. First, make sure your paints are suitably runny - poster paints or acrylics are great, and you can water them down with water if too thick. There are two 'splatter' techniques you can use:
Paintbrush Technique: Dip your paintbrush in paint and use your fingers to 'flick' the paint all over the canvas.
'Drip' Technique: This technique is a little more difficult to control, and will make a much thicker texture on the painting. Take your paint bottle, and from a distance, drip the paint all across the canvas.
You can also use a combination of these ideas to create your own unique piece of art! Use different colours and layer them on top of each other to make a truly abstract masterpiece.
The American artist Cindy Sherman is famous for creating photographic self-portraits of her dressed as all different types of people. Kids will love this art lesson idea, as it involves inventing characters and lots of dressing up!
To create Cindy Sherman inspired art, all you need is your imagination, some props and a camera (or phone!). Encourage the kids to think of an alter ego or an invented character you might see in a film. Let them use their imagination to dress up as their character - maybe even rummaging through the parents' wardrobes - and they can choose a location to pose and act out their persona. Print out the pictures and enjoy your Sherman inspired art photos!
Top Tip: Expand on this project by getting the kids to create a narrative around their character. Who are they, where are they from and what are some interesting facts about them? They could draw a picture and write a short paragraph about their character - this is a great exercise in creative writing and thinking.
Known in particular for his infamous work 'The Kiss', Austrian painter Gustav Klimt was famous for his figurative work. His use of gold leaf and intricate designs meant he had a very distinctive style. Creating work in the style of Klimt is lots of fun, and you can use mixed media, print, or any other techniques the kids like:
Klimt Print Project: You'll need gold, silver and bronze/red paints here. Choose your favourite Klimt painting and focus on one smaller section of the piece to recreate. Take any bits from the recycling that have round, square or triangle surfaces - for example, a wine bottle cork or the bottom of a juice carton - and dip these into your paints, using them as alternative brushes to print your geometric design. Use a fork to handle and dip the items if that's easier. Follow Klimt's image to layer up your design, and once the paint is dry you can add detail using black felt tip markers.
Fashion Collage Project: Great for older kids and teens, this collage project is lots of fun and uses recycled magazine pages. Cut out images of fashion models from your magazine as well as any stand-out gold, black and silver Klimt-style patterns you can find. Glue the figure onto a white or black background, and collage the patterns on top of their clothes and around them so that their body stands out against these elaborate designs. Alternatively, you can stick plain pieces of white paper on top of the model and draw your own designs using gold, silver and black bold markers.
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