Travel through history to discover many of the art world’s most talented and brilliant minds! We’ve compiled a list of famous artists for kids that will nurture their art appreciation, creativity, and imagination.
Join us on a journey to learn about these artists’ fascinating lives and incredible masterpieces. Plus, we’ve included related art activities for kids inspired by each famous artist.
Often referred to as the “Renaissance Man,” Michelangelo is best known for his sculptures and paintings. His work includes the Pieta, the Sistine Chapel ceiling, and his famous statue of David. His statue of David is considered one of the greatest masterpieces of all time.
Our lesson plan on Michelangelo offers more fascinating facts. It also includes an art project for kids to produce a rough copy of one of Michelangelo’s paintings.
One of the most recognized figures in history for his genius abilities, is Leonardo Da Vinci. He was a renowned Italian Renaissance artist, inventor, mathematician, poet, architect, and scientist. His most famous artworks include the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper.
Discover more with our lesson plan on Leonardo Da Vinci. It includes a fun activity instructing students to paint their own version of the “Mona Lisa.”
Vincent van Gogh was a Dutch post-impressionist painter who lived from 1853 to 1890. Van Gogh’s works, including “Sunflowers” and “The Starry Night,” are famous for their bold colors, expressive brushstrokes, and emotional intensity. Sadly he was not widely recognized during his lifetime.
Paintings by Vincent van Gogh stand out for their vibrant colors. Encourage your students to create bright yellow sunflowers by supplying them with vivid paints or colorful materials.
A Spanish painter, sculptor, and printmaker, Pablo Picasso is one of the most influential artists of the 20th century. He was also a pioneer of the Cubist movement. Picasso produced an estimated 13,500 paintings throughout his career. His most famous works of the modern era are, “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon” and “Guernica.”
Kids can create their own “Picasso-style” portraits by dividing an illustration of their faces into geometric shapes.
Claude Monet was a French painter and a leading figure in the Impressionist art movement. He focused on capturing light and color in nature. Monet is notorious for his series of Water Lilies paintings.
Encourage kids to create Monet-inspired landscape paintings using bold brushstrokes and bright colors. Consider painting with one of Monet’s favorite mediums, oil pastels.
Spanish surrealist artist Salvador Dali is popular for his unusual paintings and sculptures. His most well-known works include “The Persistence of Memory,” “Swans Reflecting Elephants,” and “The Elephants.”
Encourage your students to let their creativity run wild by drawing a surreal landscape including odd objects like melting clocks.
Georgia O’Keeffe was an American artist known for her bold, abstract paintings. Most feature brightly colored flowers, animal bones, and landscapes of the American Southwest. Her most notable artworks include “Jimson Weed,” “Black Iris III,” and “Cow’s Skull: Red, White, and Blue.”
To create O’Keeffe-inspired artwork, cut flower or leaf shapes from brightly colored paper. Arrange them on a contrasting background to create a bold, abstract composition.
Born in 1907, Frida Kahlo was a Mexican painter best known for her self-portraits featuring her distinguishing brow line. Kahlo’s most famous works include “The Two Fridas,” “Self-portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird,” and “The Broken Column.” These paintings explore themes of pain, identity, and cultural heritage.
Kids can draw or paint self-portraits using bold colors, like Kahlo. Have them incorporate surrealistic elements and symbols representing their identity and heritage.
Rembrandt van Rijn was a Dutch painter, printmaker, and draftsman. He is widely considered among the most significant artists in European history. Rembrandt’s paintings are known for their dramatic lighting, emotional depth, and realistic detail. His works include, “The Night Watch,” “The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp,” and “Self-Portrait with Two Circles.”
Play with lighting, like Rembrandt, by shining a flashlight while students draw or paint an object. Emphasize the shadows and highlights.
George Seurat, was a French post-impressionist painter from the late 1800s. He was famous for his innovative technique of pointillism. Pointillism is small dots of color applied to a canvas to create an image. Seurat’s most famous painting is, “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte.”
Instruct students to design a pointillist masterpiece using cotton swabs dipped in paint to create dots of color.
Johannes Vermeer was a Dutch Baroque painter known for using light, color, and composition. His paintings often featured interiors of domestic scenes, such as in his works “Girl with a Pearl Earring” and “The Milkmaid.”
Kids can recreate one of Vermeer’s famous paintings using a “grid drawing technique.” Divide the painting into a grid and copy each section onto a larger medium.
Henri Matisse was born in France in 1869 and became a famous artist for using color, shape, and pattern. Matisse’s “Dance” and “The Snail” best represent his colorful, abstract style. His work evolved throughout his career as he eventually produced cut-out paper collages.
Provide materials for kids to create their own cut-out collages using bright, bold colors and shapes.
A Russian painter and pioneer of abstract art, Wassily Kandinsky was born in Moscow in 1866. Kandinsky was trained as a lawyer and ethnographer before he shifted his focus to art. He spent many years studying the relationships between color and form. His studies reflect in his famous works “Composition 8” and “Several Circles.”
Use Kandinsky’s famous painting, “Yellow-Red-Blue,” as inspiration for experimentation with mixing primary colors. They can also practice their form using concentric circles.
Piet Mondrian was a Dutch artist who played a major role in the development of abstract art. He was a member of the De Stijl movement, emphasizing primary colors and straight lines. Piet’s famous paintings include, “Composition with Red, Blue, and Yellow” and “Broadway Boogie Woogie.”
Kids can construct Mondrian-style paintings using construction paper squares and rectangles in primary colors. Arrange the shapes on a white background to make a fun art project.
Andy Warhol was an American visual artist born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in 1928. He is famous for his iconic pop art pieces created in the 1960s. His most popular works included Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe, and Campbell’s Soup cans.
To create a Warhol-inspired work, have kids choose an image representing a pop culture item or celebrity. Instruct them to use bright colors and repeating patterns in their designs.
An Austrian symbolist painter born in 1862, Gustav Klimt received his training at Vienna’s School of Arts and Crafts. He later founded the Vienna Secession group.
Based on Klimt’s work, “Tree of Life,” instruct students to create a mixed-media artwork. Use magazine or scrap paper for the branches and trunk and metallic or gold foil for the leaves.
Jackson Pollock was an American painter who played a significant role in the abstract expression movement in the 20th century. Pollock’s most famous works are his drip paintings. They are characterized by dripping and splashing paint onto the canvas.
Inspired by Pollock’s technique, set up a large canvas outdoors and encourage kids to drip and splatter paint onto it freely. Experiment with different colors and movements.
Faith Ringgold, born in 1930, is a renowned African American artist, writer, and activist. She’s famous for her colorful story quilts that address race, gender, and social injustice.
Share Ringgold’s,”Tar Beach,” which tells the story of a young girl who dreams of flying over New York City. Provide materials for students to make their own story quilts.
Famous for his impossible designs, Escher’s art combines mathematics, optical illusion, and surrealism. For example, “Relativity,” depicts three gravity-defying staircases, and “Drawing Hands,” shows two hands drawing each other.
Escher is also famous for his tessellations, where shapes fit together perfectly to create a pattern. Students can create their own tessellations by cutting out shapes and arranging them.
Alma Woodsey Thomas was a teacher and an African American artist. Thomas’s artwork is notorious for her vibrant colors and abstract shapes. She often drew inspiration from nature or music.
Instruct students to create abstract artwork inspired by nature or music, using bold and bright colors like Alma Thomas. Encourage them to let their creativity and imagination guide them as they experiment with different shapes and textures.