Fine Art Adventures #Kidlit from @ChiReviewPress

For Nonfiction Monday, we have a new title from Chicago Review Press, Fine Art Adventures: 36 Creative, Hands-On Projects Inspired by Classic Masterpieces by Maja Pitamic and Jill Laidlaw.

For years I volunteered for Art Masterpiece, which was a program started by the Phoenix Art Museum to help bring art to schools. For each classroom session we would bring a print of a famous painting, discuss it, and then have a hands-on art project related to the piece. The kids loved it and got so much out of it. You should have seen their eyes light up when they saw us come in the door.

Fine Art Adventures follows the same format and would be perfect for a similar offering. Featuring 18 well-known classic works of art, children learn about the background of the art and artist, and then have their choice of hands-on activities to explore related art concepts and techniques.

As Mike Norris, staff educator at the Metropolitan Museum for Art says:

…the genius of this book is that each activity — designed for the skills of children aged between six and eight — extends logically from the original artwork, no matter what its medium, providing refreshing insights about painters and painting.

The projects range from creating a Pointillist artwork using paints and a toothbrush, to making a shoebox diorama to accompany Henry Rousseau’s Surprised!

One question you might have is whether this book is for adults or children. The brilliance of Chicago Review Press books is that, with their easy-to-read and easy-to-use format, they work for both. The suggested age range is 6 and up.

Fine Art Adventures is a great resource for either school or home use. The best part is no experience is needed!

Art Activity Inspired by Fine Art Adventures

Patterns:  Lines, shapes, and colors

Henry Matisse’s The Snail is featured in Fine Art Adventures on page 10. Our Art Masterpiece collection used a print of Matisse’s Purple Robe and Anemones, which is a lovely painting full of vibrant colors and patterns. Although it seems like re-creating the look of the print for an art project might require multiple media and drying time between layers, the secret is to use color changing markers. The markers allow the young artist to fill an area with one color and then add lines/patterns by drawing over the filled area with the color changer pen. Fun and easy!

  1. Share image of Henry Matisse’s Purple Robe and Anemones
  2. Ask the students look for repeating lines or shapes that make patterns. Look at the robe, the wall, the floor, the vase. What about the designs on the tablecloth? Do any of the patterns repeat in other areas, perhaps in another color? Are there any places without lines? (the flowers, fruit, woman’s face)
  3. Gather:
  • Color Changing Markers
  • Paper
  • Other art supplies such as Sharpies, cray pas, etc. (optional)

Crayola Color Changing Markers

Let the children experiment with the markers and/or explain how to use the markers, if needed. For a project inspired by the painting, have them draw a simple vase on a table. Add flowers and fill in the background by adding repeating lines and shapes to different areas.

Once they’ve gotten the idea, let their imaginations soar.

Looking for a way to make this a STEAM project? Check out this video which explains a bit about how the color changing markers work and how to do an experiment to discover more.

Let me know if you have any questions or suggestions.

Age Range: 6 and up
Grade Level: 1 and up
Paperback: 144 pages
Publisher: Chicago Review Press (September 1, 2017)
ISBN-10: 0912777044
ISBN-13: 978-0912777047

Disclosure: This book was supplied by the publisher for review purposes. Also, I am an affiliate with Amazon so I can provide you with cover images and links to more information about books and products. As you probably are aware, if you click through the highlighted title link and purchase a product, I will receive a very small commission, at no extra cost to you. Any proceeds help defray the costs of hosting and maintaining this website.


Looking for more children’s nonfiction books? Try the Nonfiction Monday blog.