6 Famous Artists for Kids to Study + Classroom Art Activities

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Holly (Teach Starter)

Written by Holly (Teach Starter)

Whether you’re teaching elementary art or you’re looking for famous artists for kids to learn about in your classroom as part of a lesson on biographies, the world is full of plenty of amazing artmakers who can inspire your students. But where do you even begin? And what can you do to make learning about famous artists fun for kids?

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A biography lesson might cover an artist’s life, the events that transpired around the time they came to fame, and maybe their famous pieces of artwork … and maybe a fun art project! We put together a list of famous artists for kids to study during your next biography lesson and found some fun art projects that you can do based on their art!

 


Famous Artists for Kids to Study

Andy Warhol

There’s a famous quote often misattributed to artist Andy Warhol about getting your 15 minutes of fame. Although he didn’t actually say it, it seems right that we start off with this famous artist who had well over those 15 minutes.

Warhol is an American pop artist who may be most noted for his Marilyn Monroe Diptych — four silkscreened images of the famous actress put together — or perhaps his silkscreen painting of Campbell’s soup cans. Kids studying Warhol will learn about lithography, visual art, and the intersection of art and pop culture.

Accompanying Art Project: Have your students make their own version of the Marilyn Diptych with their own faces!

Art Activities Inspired by Famous Artists

Materials

  • 1 x white card
  • colored pens and highlighters
  • ruler
  • avatar template
  • tracing paper
  • pencil

Preparation

Directions

  1. Use a ruler to divide a piece of white card into four equal sections.
  2. Use tracing paper to trace and copy the avatar four times.
  3. Colour each of the faces using bright pens and highlighters. Try to use a combination of different colors for each box and face.

Pablo Picasso Inspired Art Activity

Spanish painter and sculptor Pablo Picasso is another important famous artist for kids to learn about, from his influence on the 20th century art world to the wars that influenced his life.

Accompanying Art Project: Students can create a self-portrait inspired by Pablo Picasso’s work with Cubism, including the art elements of line and color.

Art Activities Inspired by Famous Artists

Materials

  • 4 x colored paper
  • oil pastels
  • pencil
  • glue stick
  • black marker

Directions

  1. Using a pencil, draw the outline of the face, neck, and hair.
  2. Draw one eye facing outwards, another eye facing inwards, and the lips on different pieces of colored paper. Colour in both the eyes and the lips using oil pastels.
  3. Glue the eyes and lips onto the face.
  4. Draw lines to create sections on the remaining parts of the face.
  5. Using a black marker, trace over the lead pencil face and lines.
  6. Use oil pastels to color the sections of the face and the hair. Bright vibrant colors work best.

Additional Art Idea: The Three Musicians artwork by Pablo Picasso was created in 1921. In this inspired artwork activity, students cut up 2D shapes to re-create this art piece.

Art Activities Inspired by Famous Artists

Materials

  • metallic pens
  • red paper
  • green paper
  • blue paper
  • black paper
  • scissors

Directions

  1. Cut out a rectangle from each piece of the colored card.
  2. Glue the three rectangles onto the black card to create the background for each musician.
  3. Create the collage of the three musicians by using only shapes cut from the three different pieces of colored card (use the original work of Picasso for inspiration).
  4. Use metallic pens to add detail to each musician.

Piet Mondrian

Dutch painter Piet Mondrian is another famous artist whose work kids can learn from. Considered one of the pioneers of abstract art, Mondrian’s simple rectangles in primary colors offer a great lesson in breaking things down to just the essential components!

Accompanying Art Project: Students can re-create this artwork by Mondrian by picking an object that represents something in their life!

Art Activities Inspired by Famous Artists

Materials

  • white paper
  • template of object
  • black paper
  • oil pastels (blue, red, and yellow)
  • lead pencil
  • black marker
  • scissors

Preparation

  • Prepare some templates of objects that the students can choose from.

Directions

  1. Place the chosen template in the middle of the card and trace around the template using a lead pencil.
  2. Trace over the lead pencil with a black marker.
  3. Using strips of 1 cm wide black paper, create boxes around the object by cutting to size and gluing around the image.
  4. Colour the boxes around the object using blue, red, and yellow oil pastels (keep a few of the boxes white).

Gustav Klimt

Austrian painter Gustav Klimt’s Tree of Life has spawned its fair share of art projects for kids, but Klimt himself offers lessons for kids on Austrian history. One note: Klimt was known for including a fair share of nudity in his work, which is something to be evaluated before adding him to your list of biography subjects for kids.

Accompanying Art Project:  This is a beautiful piece of art where students can let their creative juices flow inspired by Gustav Klimt’s Tree of Life.

Art Activities Inspired by Famous Artists

Materials

  • white paper
  • water paint
  • black marker
  • gold metallic pen
  • gold paper

Directions

  1. Paint the card with colorful strips using water paint. Set aside to dry.
  2. Once the background is dry, draw the outline of the tree using a black marker.
  3. Paint the inside of the tree with black water paint or acrylic paint. Set aside to dry.
  4. Once the tree is dry, draw patterns using the gold pen and stick gold circles on the tree.

Wassily Kandinsky

Like Mondrian, Russian painter Wassily Kandinsky is famous for his abstract art, but his life story also intersects with important moments in world history as he was forced to move from country to country due to World Wars I and II.

Accompanying Art Project: Students can re-create this Kandinsky artwork Farbstudie Quadrate (also known as Squares with Concentric Circles/Rings).

Art Activities Inspired by Famous Artists

Materials

  • white paper
  • oil pastels
  • lead pencil
  • three different sized circular objects
  • black marker

Directions

  1. Use three different-sized circular objects to draw circles on the white card (a bowl, cup, and glue stick lid work well). Make most of them overlap to create lots of different shapes.
  2. Add some extra curved or straight lines to the picture.
  3. Color in the picture in an imaginative way (I used a variety of block colors, smudging of oil pastels, and some patterns to create the art above).

Vincent Van Gogh

Dutch Post-Impressionist painter Vincent Van Gogh created some of the most expensive paintings ever painted, but he was virtually unknown during his lifetime — opening up good conversations with kids about what fame really means.

The Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam has created a fantastic video for kids to learn a little more about this famous artist:

Accompanying Art Project: Students can’t go past a re-creation of Vincent Van Gogh’s Starry Night creation!

Art Activities Inspired by Famous Artists

Materials

  • Midnight blue colored paper
  • oil pastels
  • yellow paper

Directions

  1. Use the black oil pastel to create the city at the bottom of the midnight blue colored card.
  2. Cut small yellow squares out of paper to create the windows in the city buildings.
  3. Using the yellow oil pastel, draw the moon and stars, using white and yellow dots and dashes to make the moon and stars pop!
  4. Finally, use a mix of black, purple, blue, and white oil pastels to create the wind effect through the sky.

Other Classroom Art Activities

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