Why art? Because it’s mind-expanding, creativity-promoting, empowering, fun to do, and fun to look at. Check out these resources on famous artists, famous works of art, art history and appreciation, art in fiction, and a lot of great hands-on projects.

Also see COLORS.



image-3 Eric Carle’s The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse (Philomel Books, 2011) is a gorgeous celebration of art, complete with blue horse, red crocodile, black polar bear, yellow cow, and polka-dotted donkey. A delightful book for young artists – and a tribute to one of Carle’s inspirations, artist Franz Marc, who painted The Blue Horse in 1911. For ages 2-5.
 image-5 See Franz Marc’s Blue Horse here.
 image-4 By Jeanette Winters, Mr. Cornell’s Dream Boxes (Beach Lane Books, 2014) is the picture-book story of artist Joseph Cornell, who made wonderful “memory boxes” from found objects. For ages 4-7.
image-6 Joan Sommers’s The Cornell Box (Cider Mill Press, 2016) has background info on artist Joseph Cornell, who created artworks in small glass-fronted boxes incorporating found objects, trinkets, book pages, and more. The book – housed in a keepsake box – includes six project ideas and a handful of materials to get hopeful artists started. For ages 10 and up.
 image-7 From the Peabody Essex Museum, see Joseph Cornell: Navigating the Imagination, an interactive exploration of Cornell’s art.
Make your own! See these Joseph Cornell Box Ideas from Pinterest.
image-8 Kathleen Benson’s Draw What You See (Clarion Books, 2015) is the inspirational story of African-American artist Benny Andrews, one of ten children, born to sharecroppers in rural Georgia in the 1930. He painted wonderful folk-art-like scenes of ordinary people in the South and fought against the exclusion of black artists from the greater art world. For ages 4-7.
 image-9 Michelle Markel’s Dreamer from the Village (Henry Holt and Company, 2005) is a picture-book biography of Russian-French artist Marc Chagall – who “was different from other boys. He saw things they didn’t see.” For ages 4-8.
 dreamingchagall2 Daydreaming with Chagall is a hands-on art project based on Chagall’s painting “I and the Village.”
See Chagall: Art Projects for Kids on Pinterest.
image-10 Michelle Markel’s The Fantastic Jungles of Henri Rousseau (Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, 2012) begins “Henri Rousseau wants to be an artist. Not a single person has ever told him he is talented. He’s a toll collector. He’s forty years old. But he buys some canvas, paint, and brushes, and starts painting anyway.” A charming picture-book biography for ages 4-8.
 rousseau2 From the Incredible @rt Department, Henri Rousseau – Art and Science is an illustrated lesson plan with many suggestions for hands-on art projects.
Try creating Your Own Rousseau Jungle using construction paper and magazine collage materials.
 image-11 From the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Vincent’s Colors (Chronicle Books, 2005) pairs reproductions of Van Gogh paintings with his comments upon them, in the form of gentle rhymes: “Leaves of silver, turning to green/stars sparkling, greenish, yellow, white/a big bunch of violet irises/and in my head a starry night.” For ages 4-8.
 Our Starry Night Make Van Gogh’s Starry Night with paper cut-outs and pencil-eraser and apple prints.
 1209 See a collection of Van Gogh-inspired art projects for kids here, among them 3D models of Van Gogh paintings, a sunflower collage, and hanging Starry Night ornaments.
image-12 In Nina Laden’s When Pigasso Met Mootisse (Chronicle Books, 1998), the two painters (shown as a pig in a beret and a shaggy orange bull) are neighbors who fall out when each criticizes the other’s artworks. They build a fence between their houses – but then find that they miss each other’s company. They end up painting their respective sides of the fence, eventually producing a wonderful collaborative work of modern art. Loosely based on the real-life relationship between Picasso and Matisse. For ages 4-8.
Block-Cubism-Heads-post-365x365 Art Projects for Kids: Picasso has a list of Picasso-themed hands-on projects, among them cubist faces and self-portraits and cubist paper-bag masks.
See Picasso: Art Projects for Kids on Pinterest.
 image-13 Jonah Winter’s Diego (Dragonfly Books, 1994), written in both English and Spanish, is the story of Mexican muralist Diego Rivera, illustrated with richly colored folk-art-themed paintings. For ages 4-8.
Check out this collaborative project for making your own Diego Rivera mural.
Diego Rivera Lesson Plans, Books, and More has several hands-on art projects, coloring pages, and a book list.
image-14 Also by Winter, Frida (Arthur A. Levine Books, 2002) is the story of brilliant artist Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera’s wife, who turned her often painful life into magical surreal paintings. For ages 4-10.
Frida Kahlo Lesson Plans has background info, hands-on projects, arts and crafts, and a book list.
 Kahlo Make this Frida Kahlo portrait with black construction paper and oil pastels.
image-15 The Uncle Andy of James Warhola’s Uncle Andy’s (Puffin, 2005) is artist Andy Warhol. The book, written by Warhol’s nephew, describes his family’s visits to Uncle Andy’s amazing NYC apartment, crammed with all kinds of things that the author’s mother claims is junk, but Uncle Andy insists is art. For ages 4-9.
image-16 James Warhola’s Uncle Andy’s Cats (G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2009) tells the story of artist Andy Warhol’s 25 cats – beginning with the first little blue cat named Hester. For ages 4-8.
 image-17 See these great Andy Warhol-themed art projects on Pinterest.
From KinderArt, make Warhol Pop Art Portraits.
image-18 Jeanette Winters’s Henri’s Scissors (Beach Lane Books, 2013) describes how Henri Matisse, when he became ill late in life and was too weak to paint, began making glorious cut-paper pictures. The simple story is embellished with quotes from Matisse; illustrations include Matisse’s paper-collage shapes. For ages 5-8.
 image-19 In Samantha Friedman’s Matisse’s Garden (Harry N. Abrams, 2014), Matisse makes a bird out of cut paper – and then goes on to create a wonderful paper garden on the walls of his apartment. The book itself is illustrated with cut-paper collages. See more here.

For ages 5-8.

 image-20 See this You Tube film clip of Henri Matisse making paper cut-outs.
 image-21 Try creating a Matisse-style paper cut-out garden collage.
image-22 In Sandy’s Circus by Tanya Lee Stone (Viking Juvenile Books, 2008), artist Alexander Calder is hired to draw pictures of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus – and goes on to create the marvelous wire-sculpture circus figures that made him famous. For ages 5-9.
 Slide13 See how to make Calder Wire Sculpture.
 IMG_2706 Check out these great Calder-style kinetic sculptures made by first-graders.
image-23 Geraldine Elschner’s The Cat and the Bird (Prestel Publishing, 2012) is based on a painting by artist Paul Klee. It’s a simple story of a pampered cat who longs for freedom; finally, with the help of a sympathetic bird, he escapes from the house to dance on the roof in the moonlight. The book ends with a beautiful color reproduction of Klee’s “Cat and Bird.” For ages 5 and up.
 image-24 From Deep Space Sparkle, Klee Cat & Bird is a great lesson plan based on the book, in which kids learn to paint wonderful Klee-style cats.
 IMG_4952 Paul Klee Inspired Villages is an art project in which kids make gorgeous painted-paper villages.
 image-25 In D.B. Johnson’s Magritte’s Marvelous Hat (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012), surrealist painter Rene Magritte – represented by a very elegant dog – acquires a mysterious hat that floats just above his head. Eventually it inspires him to paint a wonderful picture. For ages 4-8.
 image-26 From Museum Masters, Rene Magritte has images of Magritte’s work, fun facts, and Magritte-based hands-on art projects.
 image-27 Margarita Engle’s Summer Birds (Henry Holt and Company, 2010) is the enchanting story of a little-known artist, Maria Merian, born in Germany in 1647. At the time, most people believed that insects came from mud, in a process called spontaneous generation – but Maria, who was a keen observer of nature, disagreed. She eventually became famous both as a scientist and as an artist for her wonderful paintings of insects and of butterflies, then sometimes called “summer birds.” For ages 5-9.
image-28 Kathy Whitehead’s Art from Her Heart (G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2008) is the picture-book biography of self-taught African-American artist Clementine Hunter, who used to hang her wonderful folk-art paintings on the family clothesline. Eventually her talent was recognized and her paintings ended up hanging in museums – but even so, during the days of segregation, Clementine wasn’t allowed to see them, but had to be smuggled into the museum after-hours. For ages 5-9.
image-29 Barb Rosenstock’s The Noisy Paint Box (Knopf, 2014) is a picture-book biography of Vasily Kandinsky, one of the first abstract artists – who was a very proper little Russian boy until he was given his first paintbox. When he mixed colors, he found that he could hear them as marvelous musical sounds – and so he set out to paint music. Kandinsky had a condition called synesthesia, in which people have two or more intertwined senses. Synesthetics can see, hear, or smell colors; some associate colors with words, letters, or numbers; some perceive tastes as shapes. For ages 5-9.
 image-30 Kandinsky & Color is a paper circle project for preschoolers and early-elementary kids.
 image-30 In Kandinsky Color Circles, kids create circular color studies while listening to music.
 bGAWxaTxdu8sDyGFXZ3o-jl72eJkfbmt4t8yenImKBVvK0kTmF0xjctABnaLJIm9 Check out these Kandinsky art projects and lesson plans on Pinterest.


 image-31 Jen Bryant’s award-winning A Splash of Red (Knopf, 2013), with wonderful illustrations by Melissa Stewart, is the picture-book biography of self-taught African-American artist Horace Pippin. For ages 6-9.
image-32 From the National Gallery of Art, see Pippin’s Story, which has background info, a slide show of Pippin’s paintings, interactive activities, and a project in which kids paint a picture of a room in their house in the style of Pippin. (Learn all about Pippin’s “secret number.”)
image-33 Rachel Rodriguez’s Through Georgia’s Eyes (Henry Holt and Company, 2006) is a gorgeously illustrated biography of artist Georgia O’Keeffe, from her childhood in Wisconsin through art school, her life in the city, and finally her move to the desert of New Mexico. The theme of the book is allowing readers to see the world as the artist saw it, “through Georgia’s eyes.” For ages 6-9.
 image-34 In Jeanette Winters’s My Name is Georgia (HMH, 2003), Georgia O’Keeffe knew that she wanted to be an artist from the time she was a free-spirited little girl, who refused to wear shoes, sashes, and braids like her sisters did. For ages 6-10.
image-35 From Deep Space Sparkle, make Georgia O’Keeffe-inspired flowers.
IMG_4048-001 See these Georgia O’Keeffe art projects on Pinterest. (Poppies, skulls, and ladders to the moon.)
image-36 By Tina and Carson Kugler, In Mary’s Garden (HMH, 2015) is the picture-book story of contemporary artist Mary Nohl, who loved art from the time she was a little girl. Eventually Mary filled her Wisconsin garden with fantastical creatures crafted from concrete and found objects, turning it into a marvelous art gallery. For ages 6-9.
image-37 For a view of Mary’s garden, see Mary Nohl: The Witch of Foxpoint on You Tube.
image-38 Action Jackson by Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan (Square Fish, 2007) is a picture-book account of Wyoming-born artist Jackson Pollock, beginning as Pollock pulls on his paint-splattered boots and heads out to the barn to create one of his best-known paintings, Lavender Mist. (An appendix has a more detailed biography in smaller print.) For ages 6-10.
museum-018 Try this great Jackson Pollock project. Outdoors. In old clothes.
image-39 Berenice Capatti’s Klimt and His Cat (Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, 2004) is a fictionalized story of 19th-century Viennese artist Gustav Klimt as told from the point of view of his cat, Katze. Illustrations include glittering views of Klimt’s works. For ages 6-10.
 image-40 A glorious Klimt painting is featured in the 2015 film Woman in Gold, based on the true story of an elderly Jewish woman’s attempt to recover the portrait of her aunt, stolen from her family by the Nazis. Rated PG-13.

Make your own version of Gustav Klimt’s Tree of Life.

Jewel-Klimt-ATC-365x365 Klimt-themed art projects include making jeweled art trading cards and patterned line art.
 image-42 Nancy Willard’s Pish, Posh, Said Hieronymus Bosch (HMH, 1991) is a fantastical tale of 15th-century painter Hieronymus Bosch, as told from the point of view of his frustrated housekeeper: “I’m quitting your service, I’ve had quite enough/Of your three-legged thistles asleep in my wash/Of scrubbing the millstone you use for a dish/And riding to shops on a pickle-winged fish.” (“Pish, posh,” said Hieronymus Bosch.) Illustrations are in the form of lush period paintings in gold frames, featuring a wild array of strange Boschian creatures. For ages 7 and up.
bosch1 Oh My Gosh, It’s a Bosch! is a Bosch-based art project in which kids make horrifying portraits.
image-43 In Christina Bjork’s Linnea in Monet’s Garden (Sourcebooks, 2012), the exuberant Linnea has come to visit Paris – and to see the house and garden of impressionist painter Claude Monet. Written in the first person in Linnea’s voice. A charming mix of art, history, and story. For ages 7-11.
 monet5-e1438349564280-680x685 10 Claude Monet Art Projects for Kids include a 3D waterlily pond and a seascape painting.


 image-44 Julie Appel’s Touch the Art series (Sterling) is what you might get if you crossed Pat the Bunny with the Metropolitan Museum. Kids can count Monet’s waterlilies, pop the top on Andy Warhol’s soup can, make Van Gogh’s bed, and brush the Mona Lisa’s hair. For a complete list see Touch the Art. For ages 3-6.
image-45 Mike Venezia’s Getting to Know the World’s Greatest Artists is a catchy picture-book biography series, illustrated with color reproductions of the featured artist’s works and clever cartoons. 48 titles in all. For ages 5-9.
image-46 Anholt’s Artists Books for Children (Barron’s Educational Series) by author/illustrator Laurence Anholt are stories from the lives of famous artists, all featuring children. In Van Gogh and the Sunflowers, for example, a little boy named Camille brings a visitor to his town a gift of sunflowers – which the visitor, Vincent van Gogh, turns into a wonderful painting.
image-47 Other titles in the series include Picasso and the Girl with a Ponytail, Leonardo and the Flying Boy, Degas and the Little Dancer, Cezanne and the Apple Boy, The Magical Garden of Claude Monet, Rockwell: A Boy and His Dog, and Matisse: King of Color. See the complete list here.
image-48 The Smart About Art series (Grosset & Dunlap) is a collection of illustrated artist’s biographies, each presented in the style of a child-written school report – that is, a particularly appealing school report in which kid-style drawings and printed comments are interspersed with photographs, art reproductions, and a brief printed text. Each book covers the details of the artist’s life and describes his or her art style and techniques.
image-49 In Maryann Cocca-Leffler’s Edgar Degas: Paintings That Dance (2001), for example, kids discover that Degas learned all the ballet steps in order to paint them – there’s a sketch of a little girl in pigtails and a pink tutu demonstrating the five basic ballet positions. There’s also a double-page spread of the charcoal sketches Degas made while working on his famous sculpture of “The Little Dancer,” photographs of the finished statue, and an account of how the statue was made. A dollmaker, readers learn, made the dancer’s tiny ballet slippers, tutu, and wig of real hair; and a recent X-ray showed that the dancer’s “skeleton” is made of wire and broken paintbrushes.
image-78 Other titles in the series include Claude Monet: Sunshine and Waterlilies and Pablo Picasso: Breaking All the Rules, by True Kelley; Mary Cassatt: Family Pictures and Henri Matisse: Drawing with Scissors by Jane O’Connor; and Vincent Van Gogh: Sunflowers and Swirly Stars by Joan Holub.
image-50 Angela Wenzel’s 13 Artists Children Should Know (Prestel, 2009) is a collection of short biographies, reproductions of artists’ works, and background info, paired with games, quizzes, and activities. (The Amazon reviews list several protests about the inclusion of paintings of nudes.) There are many more books in the Children Should Know series, among them 13 Modern Artists Children Should Know, 13 American Artists Children Should Know, and 13 Women Artists Children Should Know. For a complete list, see Children Should Know Series. For ages 8 and up.


image-51 By Katy Friedland and Marla Shoemaker, A is for Art Museum (Temple University Press, 2008) is an interactive alphabet book based on full-color images of paintings, sculptures, prints, tapestries, and photos from the Philadelphia Museum of Art. D, for example, is for a Degas dancer; F (for Flowers) is paired with Van Gogh’s Sunflowers; M (for Music) with Picasso’s Three Musicians. For ages 3 and up.
image-52 Aline Wolf’s Child Size Masterpieces (Parent Child Press, 1986) is a collection of postcard-sized reproductions of famous paintings: users cut them out of the book and use them for sorting, ordering, and matching exercises. This is an art appreciation program in a series of eight postcard books targeted at ages 3-8.
image-53 Lucy Micklethwait’s I Spy an Alphabet in Art (Greenwillow Books, 1996) leads readers through the alphabet and famous paintings, using the childhood game “I spy with my little eye something beginning with A…” A, in this gorgeous book, is for the big green apple in Rene Magritte’s Son of Man; B for the ball in Henri Rousseau’s Football Players; V for the violin in Marc Chagall’s The Bride and Groom of the Eiffel Tower. A great interactive read for ages 4-8.
image-68 Other books by Micklethwait in the same format include I Spy Shapes in Art, I Spy Colors in Art, and I Spy Animals in Art.
 image-54 For many more alphabet books and activities for all ages – and a great list of alphabet art resources – see ABC: The Alphabet and Beyond.
image-55 In Jacqueline Priess Weitzman’s wordless picture book You Can’t Take a Balloon Into the Metropolitan Museum (Puffin, 2001), a little girl and her grandmother visit the museum – but a museum guard forbids the girl to take her yellow balloon inside. The balloon is left tied to a railing, from which a pigeon sets it free. While the girl and her grandmother tour the museum – there are reproductions of 18 famous works of art – the museum guard dashes across the city, trying to retrieve the adventurous balloon. For ages 4-8.
image-56 Also by Weitzman, see You Can’t Take a Balloon Into the National Gallery (Washington, DC; orange balloon) and You Can’t Take a Balloon Into the Museum of Fine Arts (Boston; green balloon).
image-57 In James Mayhew’s Katie and the Starry Night (Hodder & Stoughton, 2013), young Katie, on a trip to the museum, explores six masterpieces by Vincent Van Gogh – first spilling the stars from Starry Night, then borrowing a chair, a ladder, and a fishing net from other paintings in order to catch them and put them back again. For ages 4-8.
image-58 Other books in the same format in which Katie hops in and out of famous paintings include Katie and the SunflowersKatie Meets the Impressionists, Katie and the Spanish Princess, Katie and the Mona Lisa, Katie and the Waterlily Pond, and Katie’s Picture Show.
image-59 In Anthony Browne’s semi-autobiographical The Shape Game (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2003), young Anthony, with his parents and brother George, spends the day at the art museum. It’s a revelation to Anthony, though Dad remains stubbornly clueless. (“What on earth is that supposed to be?” asked Dad.  “It’s supposed to be a mother and child,” said Mom. “Well, why isn’t it?” said Dad.) At the end, Mom teaches the boys to play the Shape Game – a clever drawing game – that’s irresistible for all ages. For ages 5-10.
image-60 In the Shape Game, one player draws an abstract shape, another transforms it into a recognizable picture. See About the Shape Game for resources, a Shape Game gallery, and a chance to play the game online.
 image-61 In Jon Scieszka’s Seen Art? (Viking, 2005), the narrator – looking for his friend Art – is mistakenly directed to New York City’s Museum of Modern Art, where he gets a tour of the collection. Great illustrations by Lane Smith. For ages 7 and up.
image-62 Bob Raczka’s Art Is… (Millbrook Press, 2003) uses a simple rhyming text to cover a large assortment of unusual styles of art, from a cave painting to a Tiffany lamp, a Greek vase, an African mask, a collage, and a Pollock painting. Included are 27 different works of art. For ages 5-10.
image-63 In Bob Raczka’s Name That Style (First Avenue Editions, 2009), the author explains – with great examples – the basics of 14 different art styles, among them naturalism, realism, cubism, impressionism, and surrealism.(The subtitle is “All About Isms in Art.”) For ages 10 and up.
image-64 Artist Molly Bang’s Picture This: How Pictures Work (Chronicle Books, 2000) is a dissection of pictures and what makes them work, using as an example the story of Little Red Riding Hood. Find out how lines give depth, why diagonals are dramatic, and how size and shape impact mood. (And what about color? What’s the difference between a black and a lavender wolf?) A fascinating look at composition for artists of all ages. See an excerpt here.
 image-65 From the Editors of Phaidon Press, The Art Book for Children features 30 great artists and their most famous works, from Leonardo da Vinci to Andy Warhol, Cindy Sherman, and Donald Judd. The accompanying text encourages adults and kids to explore and discuss the paintings. For ages 7 and up.
image-66 Dorling Kindersley’s gorgeously designed Children’s Book of Art (2009) is a 144-page tour of art history from prehistoric to modern times. Included is info on art styles and schools, famous works of art, and the lives of famous artists. The book is divided into three parts: Early Art (prehistoric times to 1850), Modern Art (Impressionism to the present), and Sculpture. For ages 8 and up.
image-67 By Heather Alexander, the 96-page A Child’s Introduction to Art (Black Dog & Leventhal, 2014) is a charmer, with historical background, 40 featured artists, informational side boxes, and hands-on projects. For example, kids can try upside-down painting like Michelangelo, experiment with Q-tip pointillism, make a (tissue-paper) stained-glass window, and create a Pollock spatter-paint painting. For ages 9-12.
 artmona Famous Paintings is a collection of online art appreciation lesson for kids ages 8 and up. Each includes a biography of the artist, descriptions of his/her work, and images of paintings.


image-69 Patrick McDonnell’s splatter-patterned Art (Little, Brown, 2006) is the freewheeling tale of an exuberant little boy named Art who makes art –  drawing scribbles that squiggle, splotches with blotches, and zigs and zags with crayons, pencils, and paintbrushes. For ages 3-6.
image-70 In Leo Lionni’s Matthew’s Dream (Dragonfly Books, 1995), Matthew, a young mouse, lives with his parents in a dusty attic draped in cobwebs. Then, after a class trip to the art museum, Matthew decides to become a painter and sets about transforming his dingy world. For ages 3-7.
See Matthew’s Dream on You Tube
image-71 In Crockett Johnson’s Harold and the Purple Crayon (HarperCollins, 2005), originally published in 1955, young Harold, after thinking it over for some time, decides to go for a walk in the moonlight. Off he goes, armed only with his purple crayon, with which he draws an entire purple world. A delightful classic for ages 3-7.
image-72 Christopher Myers’s My Pen (Disney-Hyperion, 2015) is illustrated in pen-and-ink, which is appropriate because the simple story line is about what a little boy – with a bit of imagination – can do with his pen. (It can ride dinosaurs, put an elephant in a teacup, tell stories, and draw a new face every morning.) The last line encourages readers to do the same: “Let those worlds inside your pen out!” For ages 3-7.
image-73 In Ashley Spires’s cleverly illustrated The Most Magnificent Thing (Kids Can Press, 2014), a pigtailed little girl decides to build a “magnificent thing.” She designs the thing, collects tools and materials, and sets about constructing it – only to have absolutely everything go wrong. Frustrated, she pitches a fit (“It is not her finest moment”) – until her dog convinces her to go for a calming walk. Restored, she returns to her project and finds a solution. A good pick for young engineers and found-object artists, plus there’s a nice message about perseverance, For ages 3-8.
 image-74 Daniel Pinkwater’s Bear’s Picture (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2008) is a tribute to the creative spirit. Bear paints an imaginative picture, only to be confronted by a pair of stuffy gentlemen who point out that bears can’t paint and that bear’s picture is silly. “It is MY picture,” says the bear bravely, “and a splendid one it is” – and goes on to detail all the wonderful things he sees in it. For ages 4-7.
image-75 The title character of Thatcher Hurd’s Art Dog (HarperCollins, 1997) is by day a guard at the Dogopolis Museum (and admirer of Leonardo Dog Vinci), but by night a masked superhero who uses his paintbrush to apprehend art criminals. For ages 4-8.
image-76 In Raul Colon’s wordless picture book Draw! (Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books, 2014), a little boy reads a book about Africa, then with paper, pencils, and paint, creates a living African adventure of his own. For ages 4-8.
image-77 In Allan Ahlberg’s The Pencil (Candlewick, 2012), the pencil is all alone – until one day it begins to draw. First it draws a boy, then a dog, a cat, a bicycle, and a whole world of cranky characters, soon with demands and complaints. The pencil, struggling to please, produces a paintbrush which adds color – and then, disastrously, an eraser, which promptly runs amok. For ages 4-8.
 image-79 In Kelly Light’s Louise Loves Art (Balzer + Bray, 2014), Louise loves to draw – and she also loves Art, her disruptive little brother, who turns her drawings into paper dolls. A humorous story with some helpful reflections from Louise on the nature of art. (“To be a great artist, you have to notice everything.”) For ages 4-8.
image-80 In Tomie de Paola’s The Art Lesson (Puffin, 2001), mop-headed Tommy loves to draw – and his pictures are everywhere. He can’t wait to get to school so that he can learn to be a real artist – but first grade is a disappointment; he finds that he’s expected to follow the rules and draw the same thing as everyone else in the class. The somewhat uncomfortable solution is that Tommy does the class drawing first, then can do a second drawing of his own, in his own way. I don’t like Tommy’s first-grade teacher. For ages 4-8.
 image-81 In Demi’s Liang and the Magic Paintbrush (Square Fish, 1988), a poor Chinese boy is given a magic paintbrush with which everything he paints becomes real. Then the wicked emperor captures Liang and forces him to use the paintbrush for his own greedy purposes – but defiant Liang manages to thwart the emperor’s plans. For ages 4-8.
 image-82 David Weisner’s Art & Max (Clarion Books, 2010) is the story of a pair of lizards, serious Art, an artist, and happy-go-lucky Max, who hopes to become one. When Max lacks ideas, Art replies “Well…you could paint me” – and Max, literally, does. There follows a chaotic romp through art media and styles – that ends, eventually, with Max painting a portrait and Art throwing paint at a cactus. A nice lead-in for discussions of the nature of art. (What is art, anyway?) For ages 4-8.
image-83 Veronique Massenot’s Journey on a Cloud (Prestel Publishing, 2011) is a story based on the paintings of Marc Chagall. The main character, Zephyr, a postman, lives in a little blue village in the mountains where everything always stays the same – so he flies off on a cloud in search of adventure. The book ends with a reproduction of Chagall’s “The Bride and Groom of the Eiffel Tower.” For ages 5 and up.
 image-84 In the same vein, see Stepanie Girel’s A Bird in Winter (Prestel, 2011), based on the work of Pieter Breugel; Lucie Albon’s Little Ballerina (Prestel, 2011), based on the work of Edgar Degas; and Veronique Massenot’s The Great Wave (Prestel, 2011), inspired by the famous Hokusai print.
image-85 Peter Reynolds’s The Dot (Candlewick, 2003) is a must-read for kids who insist that they can’t…well, in this case, it’s draw, but the story applies to a wide range of childhood despairs. Vashti, frustrated in art class, claims she simply can’t draw. When urged by her teacher, she grabs a pencil and angrily makes a dot – “There!” – in the middle of her blank sheet of paper. The teacher (a kind and inspired person) asks her to sign it. Vashti, startled, does – and lo and behold, the next day she finds that her dot has been framed (in gold) and hung on the classroom wall. Immediately Vashti decides that she could make a better dot than that; and soon she has amassed an impressive collection of marvelous colored dots, patterned dots, swirly dots, large and small dots – so many creative dots, in fact, that she soon has an entire art exhibit all her own. For ages 5-9.
image-86 E.L. Konigsberg’s From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler (Atheneum Books, 2007), originally published in 1967, is the story of twelve-year-old Claudia and her little brother Jamie who run away from home to live in the Metropolitan Museum. There they discover a statue of an angel that just might have been carved by Michelangelo, originally the possession of the smart and eccentric Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. For ages 8-12.
The Hideaways (1973), a movie version of the book, stars Ingrid Bergman as Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. Rated G.
image-87 The Metropolitan Museum gets so many questions about From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler that they decided to devote an issue of Museum Kids to the book. The Mixed-Up Files Issue includes photos and information about the artifacts Claudia and Jamie saw, notes on Michelangelo, and a message from E. L. Konigsberg. (Find out how the book started with a piece of popcorn on a blue silk chair.)
image-88 In Blue Balliett’s Chasing Vermeer (Scholastic, 2005), clever sixth-graders Petra and Calder deal with patterns and puzzles while trying to discover what happened to a stolen Vermeer painting. For fans of The Westing Game and From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, ages 8-12.
image-89 Also by Balliett, see The Calder Game (Scholastic, 2010) in which the eleven-year-old art sleuths deal with a mysterious Calder mobile; and Pieces and Players (Scholastic, 2015) in which thirteen valuable pieces of art have gone missing from a small family museum.
image-90 In Elise Broach’s Masterpiece (Square Fish, 2010), Marvin, a beetle, lives under the floor of the Pompaday apartment. When James Pompaday turns eleven, the beetles give him a pen-and-ink set as a gift – with which Marvin discovers that he has great artistic talent. Because of Marvin’s drawing ability, he and James become embroiled in a plot to steal a Durer drawing from the Metropolitan Museum. Funny and suspenseful, and Marvin and James make a great pair of friends. For ages 8-12.
 image-97 In Henry Cole’s A Nest for Celeste (Katherine Tegen Books, 2012), Celeste is talented basket-weaving mouse who lives under the floor of Oakley Plantation where wildlife artist John James Audubon and his assistant, Joseph, spend several months in 1821. Celeste, who has to deal with mean rats and a cat, makes friends with Joseph; and also does her best to save Audubon’s captured birds. (Audubon shot his bird specimens; be warned.) A fat book illustrated with wonderful pencil drawings, reminiscent in style of The Invention of Hugo Cabret. For ages 8-12.
image-91 Jules Feiffer’s The Man in the Ceiling (HarperCollins, 1995) is a great read for budding cartoonists. Funny and poignant, this is the story of young Jimmy Jibbett who likes nothing better than drawing comics – but it’s not easy pursuing his dream, what with a father who wishes he’d play sports instead of draw, nagging sisters, and trouble with friends at school. For ages 8-12.
image-92 Laura Marx Fitzgerald’s Under the Egg (Puffin, 2014) covers everything from Renaissance art to World War II in a mystery involving a painting by Raphael. Thirteen-year-old Theo, struggling to make ends meet in Greenwich Village after the death of her grandfather, Jack, spills a bottle of rubbing alcohol and discovers, under her grandfather’s painting of an egg, what appears to be a Renaissance masterpiece. Theo and new friend Bodhi, daughter of a pair of movie stars, comb New York City, trying to find out the truth about the mysterious hidden painting. For ages 9-12.
image-93 Set in Stone Age France, Justin Denzel’s The Boy of the Painted Cave (Puffin, 1996) is the story of young Tao who wants to be a cave painter – but is forbidden, since he’s not a Chosen One, having a crippled food. Isolated from the tribe, he tames a wild dog, meets a shaman named Greybeard who teaches him to paint, and ultimately overcomes adversity to attain his dream. For ages 10-14.
image-94 Darcie Clark Frohardt’s Teaching Art with Books Kids Love (Fulcrum Publishing, 1999) covers the elements of art, principles of design, and artistic styles, pairing illustrated explanations with fine-art examples, favorite children’s picture books, and hands-on projects.
 image-95 From London’s National Gallery, check out this list of suggestions for using paintings for storytelling.
image-96 For older teens and grown-ups: Ten Books Inspired by Paintings.



 image-99 The STEM disciplines – Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math – are certainly worthwhile, but we need the arts too. See the Scientific American article Science and Art Go Hand-in-Hand.
 image By MaryAnn Kohl and Jean Potter, Science Arts (Bright Ring Publishing, 1993) is a collection of creative hands-on experiments and activities that teach science concepts through art. A short science explanation accompanies each project. For ages 2-12.
image Greg Tang’s creative Math-terpieces uses paintings by many famous artists – among them  Degas, Monet, Renoir, Cezanne, Van Gogh, Picasso, Mondrian, and Dali – to pose clever math puzzles and problems. For ages 7-9.
 image By Matt Lamothe, Julia Rothman, and Jenny Volvovski, in The Where, the Why, and the How (Chronicle Books, 2012), 75 different artists illustrate the “wondrous mysteries of science.” Each double-paged spread pairs a scientific question with a spectacular illustration. Questins include: How are stars born and how do they die? Do rogue waves exist? Why do we dream? Why is the world green? Aimed at an adult audience, but could make a wonderful project for all ages.
 image From Coolmath4Kids, see Geometry and Math Art.
 image-1 From Teachervision, Popular Art Activities for Math Class include tessellations, tangrams, quilt patterns, and geometry with Piet Mondrian.
 fibonacci-art-project-400x600 This Art and Math Pinterest board includes many terrific mathematical art projects, variously based on Fibonacci numbers, the Golden Ratio, Escher tessellations, paper polyhedral, and more.
B940CBA0-7103-494C-A77158D70E4E064C Bridges is an annual conference featuring mathematical connections in art, music, and science. This article includes some examples of remarkable featured artwork.
 image Geometry in Art and Architecture is a fascinating annotated syllabus from Dartmouth College.
 image-2 The Art & Science Journal is a publication about artworks with themes of science, nature, and technology. For teens and adults.


image Ed Emberley’s wonderful step-by-step drawing books are terrific for ages 7 and up. Many titles, all fun. Check him out online at Ed Emberley’s Drawing Pages, which has lots of great examples.
image-2 Eileen S. Prince’s Art Is Every Day (Chicago Review Press, 2012) is a collection of 65 great art project ideas that can be done at home or out and about – every day. Among these: make paper-bag puppets, try paper weaving, make vegetable prints or a photo-design quilt, write a story about a painting, invent cartoon characters, and much more. For ages 5 and up.
 image Douglas Florian’s How to Draw a Dragon (Beach Lane Books, 2015) is a terrific rhyming picture-book on – yes – how to draw a dragon. (“Drawing dragons isn’t hard/Drag a dragon to your yard/Dragons may be large in size/You’ll need lots of art supplies.”) Read and prepare to draw dragons! For ages 5-9.
image-2 In Judy Press’s Around the World Art and Activities (Williamson Publishing, 2000), kids tour the continents, having their homemade passports stamped and making dozens of art projects along the way. Among these are a Masai necklace and a Greek vase, a set of nesting Russian dolls, an Indian elephant, and a model Eiffel Tower. For ages 5-9.
image-3 Susan Schwake’s Art Lab for Kids (Quarry Books, 2012) – subtitled “52 Creative Adventures in Drawing, Painting, Printmaking, Paper, and Mixed Media” – is a photo-illustrated collection of inventive projects, each paired with an example of work by a professional artist. Arranged as weekly lessons. An excellent resource for ages 6 and up.
Also see Art Lab for Little Kids (Quarry Books, 2013, which has 52 projects targeted at ages 4-6.
image In Mila Boutan’s Art Activity Pack Series (Chronicle Books), each pack contains a paperback book about the featured artist and materials for a related art project. The Matisse Art Activity Pack, for example, comes with stencils and colored paper for making Matisse-style cut-paper collages. Activity Packs are available for Matisse, Picasso, Van Gogh, Cezanne, and Monet.
 image-2 Sandi Henry’s Making Amazing Art (Ideals Publications, 2007) shows readers how to use the seven elements of design (line, shape, form, color, value, texture, and space) to make – well, amazing – works of art. Techniques used include grid drawing, cut-out collage, and texture rubbing. Among the projects: a Complementary Color Puzzle, in which kids cut and glue shapes of complementary colors to make an abstract collage. For ages 7-13.
image-3 Kathryn Temple’s Art for Kids: Drawing (Sterling, 2014) is a step-by-step instruction book on drawing in pencil. Eight chapters deal with shapes and lines, light and shadow, proportion and scale, perspective, and drawing faces and bodies. Many creative exercises. For ages 8 and up.
image MaryAnn Kohl’s Discovering Great Artists: Hands-On Art for Children in the Styles of the Great Masters (Bright Ring Publishing, 1997) combines brief biographies of 75 famous artists with particularly cool projects using a range of media, including paint, chalk, pen-and-ink, sculpture, photography, collage, and more. The book is divided into four sections: Renaissance and Post-Renaissance, Impressionists and Post-Impressionists, Expressionists and Surrealists, and Modern and Folk Art. A common complaint is that the book is in black-and-white, which means that the reproductions of the artists’ works aren’t all that great. But there’s a lot of not-to-be-missed stuff here. For ages 4-12.

In the same format, see Great American Artists for Kids (Bright Ring Publishing, 2008).

image-2 Carol Sabbeth’s Monet and the Impressionists for Kids (Chicago Review Press, 2002) combines a history of the impressionist movement and biographies of famous impressionist painters with 21 hands-on art-related projects and activities. Among these are planting a Monet garden (in a flowerpot), drawing faces in the style of Renoir, writing a story based on a Cassatt picture, and painting a Cezanne-style still life. Included are many color reproductions of artworks. For ages 10 and up.
In the same format from Chicago Review Press, see Carol Sabbeth’s Van Gogh and the Post-Impressionists for Kids, Janis Herbert’s Leonardo da Vinci for Kids, and Michael Ross’s Salvador Dali and the Surrealists for Kids.
image-3 Mona Brookes’s Drawing with Children (Jeremy P. Tarcher, 1996) is a creative lesson-by-lesson approach to drawing highly recommended for kids and beginning adults.
Also by Brookes, see Drawing for Older Children and Teens (Jeremy P. Tarcher, 1991).
image-4 Betty Edwards’s Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain (Jeremy P. Tarcher, 2012), now in its 4th edition, is touted as the world’s most widely used drawing instruction book. For teens and up.
 51XG3N90hsL Master Kitz are packaged art kits containing all the tools for kids to recreate such masterpieces as Van Gogh’s Sunflowers and Starry Night, Monet’s Waterlilies, and Hokusai’s Great Wave.
 IMG_6446221 Famous Artist Crafts for Kids includes hands-on projects based on the works of Van Gogh, Monet, Warhol, Miro, Mondrian, Seurat, Pollock, and Matisse.
 Miro-with-tissues-3-LR-365x365 Check out this great Pinterest page on Kids Art from Famous Artists. Projects include everything from Warhol soup cans to Escher tessellations, Chihuly sculptures, and Kandinsky circle paintings.
image Art Library is a terrific resource: a wide-ranging collection of lesson plans, multi-lesson courses on learning to draw, watercolor, and cartoon, a long list of artist’s biographies, a student art gallery, and the National Standards for Art Education (for grades K-4 and 5-8).
image KinderArt has painting, drawing, printmaking, sculpture, recycled art, and art history and appreciation lessons, variously categorized by medium, theme, age, or grade. Click on Art 101 for color-mixing projects and exercises, articles on art education, and a long list of the birthdays of famous artists.
DSC02126 That Artist Woman has dozens of excellent hands-on projects for a wide range of ages, variously categorized under 3D Sculpture, Paint & Paper, Textiles, Mixed Media, Art Elements (which focuses on the basics of art education), Seasonal Projects, and Writing and Visual Arts Projects.
220-1024x768 From No Time for Flash Cards, Artist Inspired Art Projects for Kids includes clever hands-on projects for elementary-level students based on the works of Emily Carr, Hokusai, Jasper Johns, Kandinsky, Matisse, Money, Poll0ck, Seurat, and Van Gogh. Projects are paired with picture books.
 IMG_1311 Learn your artists! Make this Masterpiece Memory Game.
 image-2 Museum Masters covers art appreciation for kids. For each featured artist, there’s background information, fun facts, a photo or portrait of the artist and samples of his/her work, a related hands-on project, and book suggestions.
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