The holiday season is a time for joy, creativity, and self-expression, and what better way to celebrate than by creating art with your kids? In this project post, we’ll explore a fun and exciting art project inspired by one of my favorite artists, Yayoi Kusama. Children will make Yayoi Kusama-inspired holiday ornament canvas paintings. This project not only introduces children to the world of art but also allows them to experiment with colors, patterns, and personalization. So, this year, make the holiday season even more colorful by adding a touch of artistic flair to your decorations with a one-of-a-kind artwork by your students.
This project has extra credit! Check it out!
Yayoi Kusama is known for her mesmerizing and colorful works, often featuring polka dots and repetitive patterns. With this project, my students and I took her signature style and applied it to holiday ornaments, creating a simple and festive canvas painting that kids of all ages can enjoy.
Before I do any lesson that is centered around an artist, I like to show examples to my students and read books about the artists. I have a lot of books about Yayoi that I read to my students. I also like to use my lesson plan, Meet the Master Artist: Yayoi Kusama to help introduce Yayoi to my students. More details about that are in the extra credit section at the end of this post (it even comes with a teaching video).
That’s okay! This really isn’t about students producing something that looks like your example, my example, or that of their peers. Instead, it’s just an invitation for them to paint something inspired by Yayoi Kusama. It’s a starting point. Kids love to make art, but as they get older, they don’t really know what to make. So, we can help them by giving them a prompt to work with. With this project, you can invite your students to make Yayoi Kusama-inspired holiday ornament paintings, but where it goes from there is up to the artist!
Now that you have your materials, let’s walk through the process of making Yayoi Kusama-inspired canvas paintings of holiday ornaments with your students.
Start by having your students select a holiday ornament that inspires them. It could be a classic bauble, a snowflake, a candy cane, or any other festive shape. They’ll be creating a stylized version of this ornament, so encourage them to be creative, but don’t overthink it.
You can provide a sketchbook or a piece of paper if your students want to practice drawing before they start working on their canvas.
Once your students know what ornament shape they want to paint, then they can determine the color scheme they want to use on their artwork. I often start by having my students pick three colors of paint, to begin with and put them on their palettes. They can, of course, always come back for more, but I like to start there so they learn to think ahead about a color scheme.
Yayoi Kusama’s work is often filled with vibrant colors, so don’t be afraid to let your students experiment.
To begin your holiday ornament painting, start by using a very light color (like yellow) to create the general outline of your ornament – this will allow children to sketch with paint (instead of a pencil) to get the ornament the size and shape they want. As long as they use a very light color, they can paint right over it.
Once you have created the outline of your ornament, then use acrylic paints to apply the background color to the canvas and to paint the inside of the ornament. This step should be simple – don’t go wild (yet) with dots and designs. Just give yourself a nice, simple background and ornament color to work with.
This is where the Yayoi Kusama influence comes into play in this project. Create repetitive patterns on your canvas by making small, medium, and large dots both on the ornament and and the background. Add lots of dots!
I encouraged my students to create random dots and ones that were in a repetitive pattern — this is really where you can let off the gas and just let the kids do their thing. You’ve got them here — let them do the rest and have some fun.
Don’t forget to have students sign their artwork with their name and the date. After completing their Yayoi Kusama holiday ornament canvas painting, let it dry thoroughly. Once it’s dry, you can display it proudly as a piece of holiday art in your school. These artworks can be hung on the wall, propped up on an easel, or you can cover a bulletin board with them for a lovely holiday-themed display.
Creating Yayoi Kusama-inspired holiday ornament canvas paintings with your students is a colorful way to explore art, express creativity, and spend time together during the holiday season (learning a little art history is just a bonus — but don’t tell your students that!).
If you decide to make Yayoi Kusama-inspired paintings with your students, please share with me. You can tag me on social media @artwithjennyk.com
Thanks for reading,
Meet the Master Artist Yayoi Kusama. Teaching art history will be easy in your classroom with this time-saving resource. I designed this lesson to make art integration easy for classroom teachers and fun for kids! Children love making art. They also love to learn art history, especially when presented in a fun, new, and exciting activity like this.
Each child will complete two pages: a Yayoi Kusama biography page and an art page inspired by her work.
I have included 3 levels with various options. This lesson can be easily differentiated among your students and used with many grade levels. You will find that I have provided three levels for this project; a beginner, intermediate, and advanced set of project pages.
Having taught this lesson myself, I can tell you this lesson is tested and approved by my students and me! I hope you and your class have a great time with it.
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