We just completed our first Fall Pumpkin Artist Study! I say “first” because this will probably become a new yearly tradition each Fall for us. We really enjoyed it! We love to do lots of artwork, but haven’t made much time to learn about famous artists in history. My kids love to paint pumpkins every year after visiting the pumpkin patch, so I came up with this idea to turn it into a fun history project.
It is simple to do and a lot of fun to create, so we will probably continue to do it again each year, learning about a new artist.
Step 1: Choose an Artist
I gave my kids a few different artists to choose from. I mostly chose artists that were popular for abstract & impressionist art. Those type of art pieces seemed easiest to replicate onto a pumpkin for my younger kids. I grabbed a few library books about each artist and laid them all out on our school table. I had my kids check them out and pick the artist they wanted to study. You can also print out the artists pictures (from Google images) or write their names down on pieces of paper, put them in a bowl and have them randomly pick one too. Here are some great artists you can start with:
- Vincent Van Goh
- Pablo Picasso
- Claude Monet
- Jackson Pollock
- Yayoi Kusama
- Georgia O’Keefe
- Henri Matisse
- Andy Warhol
- Frida Kahlo
My kids chose Pablo Picasso, Jackson Pollock, and Yayoi Kusama.
Step 2: Books
I did this a little backward the first time and showed them some books for them to choose an artist. Next time, I’ll have them choose an artist and then find books to go with them (less work, haha!) Once they pick an artist, head to your library and check out a few books on them. Since my kids are younger, I picked out one or two picture books and one nonfiction book. There are so many great books, especially picture books, on these artists. (“Katie and the…” artist books by James Mayhew are great and there are different ones for many artists.) We spent a week just reading these books together. If you can’t find any books on a particular artist, head to YouTube to watch some videos on them. “Art with Mati & Dada” is a great show for kids on YouTube teaching about different artists.
Step 3: Biography
After we read all the books about each of our artists, we completed a biography brochure. I found these research brochures on Teachers Pay Teachers and love them! They are so fun for the kids to color, and a short biography for them to fill out that isn’t overwhelming. I grabbed sets #1 & #3 to cover all the artists my kids chose, but these each came with multiple brochures for other artists as well. We will be able to use all of these for future years. (These were also great to have my kids color while I read to them.)
Famous Artist Research Brochures #1 (11 artists)
Famous Artist Research Brochures #2 (16 artists)
Famous Artist Research Brochures #3 (22 artists)
Each biography brochure has a picture to color on the front, and a piece of their art to color on the inside. You fill out their birth, death, nationality, art movement, and a famous piece of their artwork. It has a section to write three interesting facts, what you think of their art, and a question you wish you could ask them.
Step 4: Paint your pumpkin
After we read our books and filled out the biography brochure, it was time to paint! We grabbed some small white pumpkins and some acrylic paint. The white pumpkin was a great base for everyone to start with and the acrylic paint is thick enough to where you only need to paint one coat. (You can grab small bottles at the craft store.)
Each of them painted their pumpkin similar to their favorite piece of artwork by their artist, or something representative of their work. It was really fun to watch them choose paint colors they knew their artist would have used. They all turned out so great!
After the pumpkins were dry, each of my kids took turns presenting their artist and pumpkin to each other, telling them all they learned about the artist and some interesting facts. We learned a lot about each artist!
And that was it! Super simple, but lots of fun and a great art history lesson! It took us a little over a week to do this study; one week to read the books and watch some videos, one day to complete the brochure, and one day to paint our pumpkins. You can complete it anytime during the fall! Head to a local pumpkin patch and grab some white pumpkins to start. (With Halloween just next week, they will probably be majorly discounted soon!)
You don’t have to use a full curriculum or study all year to do an artist study. You can do this once a year in the fall and turn it into a fun tradition! You can even choose more than one artist each year if you wanted, and do one for each month in the fall (September, October, November.)
I can’t wait to see what artists we study next year, and I might have to join in and paint one too!
Be sure to tag me on social media if you complete a pumpkin artist study! I would love to see what your kids create!