What visual artists do you introduce to students?

My teaching of visual arts previously focused on one artist such as Picasso, Monet, or Van Gogh. I realised that I was presenting a narrow view of  arts. So, instead I focused on four artists, with very different styles: Joan Mitchell, Katsushika Hokusai, Margaret Preston, and Claude Monet. 

This was highly successful, with students particularly enjoying producing abstract art.

Hook/Stimulus- What is art? 

Click here for more resources regarding art hooks/stimulus.

How art has changed…

  • How has art changed?
  • What do you notice about the different styles of art?

Pictures for art timeline

Students can work with a partner to order these pictures in the order they think the artworks were created. Students can then look at the artwork timelines websites and reflect/compare their predicted art timeline with the ones on the websites.

Art timeline

Joan Mitchell: Focus on the abstract expressionist style

About Joan Mitchell:

Videos introducing abstract art techniques:

Student Focus: As a class, we watched the above videos of artists painting in the abstract style. I gave students paint brushes, plastic knives, cotton balls and paper to use to spread paint- students could select the materials they used. The focus was on being expressive.

student sample

Katsushika Hokusai: Focus on the style of Japanese art (pure, bright colour and images in their simplest form)

About Hokusai:

Student focus: creating a landscape in its simplest form, painting with ‘flat’ colour, only adding back or white to colours (not mixing colours).

student sample

Margaret Preston: Focus on still life art

About Margaret Preston:

Student focus: Students had experience creating still life artwork, including drawing:

  • flowers: plastic flowers bought from a ‘cheap’ shop or real flowers
  • bowls of fruit: each table group had a plastic bowl with three pieces of fruit
  • tea cup and saucer: ‘old fashioned’ looking tea cups bought from a second hand shop.

Extension: students could have experience creating still life artwork in a different style, eg. cubist

Student Focus: cubist, angular, non-realistic shapes of fruit. Option: students could use one continuous line, from one side of the page to the other to divide the composition into sections.

Picture book stimulus for cubist art (also a suitable stimulus for other non-realistic artistic styles): “Luke’s way of looking” by Nadia Wheatley

Monet: Impressionist brush stroke technique

About Monet:

Introducing impressionist techniques:

Student focus: As a class, students watched the videos introducing the impressionist technique. Students then created landscape paintings with a focus on using short brushstrokes, building up and mixing the colour on the page, not having ‘flat’ colour.

student sample


Stimulus book: “If…” by Sarah Perry 

Stimulus images

About Surrealism 

Possible activities: 

  • Brainstorm nouns and verbs, write them on pieces of paper and put them into two bowls (one for nouns and one for verbs). Students pull out one noun and one verb,  eg. worms (noun), driving (verb). These nouns and verbs shouldn’t be related/realistic, eg. ‘baby’, ‘sleeping’. Students then create artworks which combine their two words.
  • Have containers with different classifications of words, eg. animal, place, food, object, landscape. Students choose three words and combine them in a drawing.
  • Give students 20 photos. They need to combine 3 of them to create a surrealistic artwork.
  • Mixed media surrealism, see instructions and examples: in ‘Surrealism slide show’ http://emilyjanevalenza.com/art-history/
  • Surrealist Portraits: Click here for pdf lesson plan

Educator Resources by The Dali Museum: https://thedali.org/programs/education-2/

Surrealism slide show: http://emilyjanevalenza.com/art-history/

Introducing Art Vocabulary 

Blog 2

Introducing students to a range of art styles and techniques: 

Large-scale art installations

Yayoi Kusama https://www.tate.org.uk/kids/explore/who-is/who-yayoi-kusama

Chiharu Shiota http://www.chiharu-shiota.com/en/

Art & Technology 


Paris Digital Art Museum 

Sculpture- Benjamin Shine

Drawing cities from memory- Stephen Wiltshire

Bubble wrap canvas- Bradley Hart

Great Young Artists

Kareem Waris OlamilekanYoung Nigerian artist inspired by the artists Michelangelo and Arinze Stanley Egbengwu.

Aelita Andre: 9-year-old abstract painter

Elisabeth Anisimow: 11-year-old child prodigy paints and sells ‘living art’. She paints a living person along with a backdrop and props. Click here for more information.

Victoria Yin and Zoe Yin: sisters and artists from Boston.

Click here for examples of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art.

Click here for a range of artworks for students to respond to.

Other Resources:

How to look at art by the Art Gallery of South Australia

Why look at art?

Lots of art resources, including: lessons, art history, art techniques and more. Good resources for both confident and beginner art teachers:

Collaborative picture: website cuts up a given picture, each student can colour part and then the pieces can be put together to make one large picture/artwork.

List of artists, grouped by theme/subject

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s