Tea Time with Jackson Pollock

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Jackson Pollock was born in Wyoming on January 28, 1912. He was a famous American painter and a major figure in the abstract expressionist movement; he married another major figure in the movement, Lee Krasner.

When people think of Jackson Pollock, they remember his famous drip paintings. He would paint canvases laid out on the floor by dropping or pouring paint on them. Pollock didn’t just use nontraditional methods of painting, he also adopted unique paint applicators (hardened brushes, sticks, and even basting syringes like you use for a Thanksgiving turkey!) and experimental paints.

Library List

Action Jackson by Jan Greenberg
“Nicknamed ‘Action Jackson’ for his kinetic style, abstract artist Jackson Pollock takes the spotlight in this outstanding picture book biography.”

Jackson Pollock (Getting to Know the World’s Greatest Artists) by Mike Venezia
A great series to introduce children to famous artists.

Activity Ideas

Splatter Canvas Paintings

Drip Painting

Watercolor Magic Action Painting

Pouring, Splattering, Dripping, Squirting, Scraping, Dragging!

String Painting and Marble Painting and Pendulum Painting

You could also paint with eye droppers or squeeze bottles. Get messy and have fun!

Tea Time Treat

Bake some square sugar cookies and frost them with this Jackson Pollock-ish technique! Use different colors for a full effect.

Notebook Page

Add this Jackson Pollock Notebook Page to your artist study notebook!

Tea Time with Van Gogh

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Vincent Van Gogh was born in the Netherlands on March 30, 1853.  He tried a variety of different jobs but never found success at any of them–including painting.  In spite of this, he produced more than 2,000 works of art in his lifetime.  Van Gogh died in France on July 29, 1890.  He is now one of the world’s most famous artists and even if your children haven’t studied him they can probably recognize some of his most famous works.

There are some wonderful books on Van Gogh geared toward children!  Some of our favorites are:

After you’ve learned a bit about Van Gogh, you might want to try some art projects!  It’s fun to try a new kind of paint or a different medium, but don’t get so concerned about being authentic that you don’t have a good time.  It’s okay to substitute materials, especially when you’re working with young kids.  I definitely wasn’t going to spend the money (or clean up the resulting mess) to have my three year old try her hand at oil painting, so we used oil pastels instead.  Focus on the style of the artist and talk about supplies they actually and enjoy yourselves, even if you aren’t making your masterpiece exactly like Van Gogh would have!    Why not give one of these projects a try at your next tea time?


We always have a snack at our tea time, and if I can, I like to make something that goes along with the artist we’re studying.  Isn’t this sunflower snack cute?  Or maybe some sparkling stars?

If you want to have something for your child’s notebook, try this notebooking page!

The Boy Who Bit Picasso

A Book Worth Reading: The Boy Who Bit Picasso from the Homeschool Share Blog

As my son began second grade this year, I decided to start artist studies with him.  Jack has been visiting museums his entire life, and he’s been exposed to a wide variety of artistic techniques.  He likes to look at art and create his own, but my dilemma has been how to make long-dead artists come alive in our home.

The Boy Who Bit Picasso does a fabulous job of bringing Pablo Picasso into a young boy’s home–literally.  Antony Penrose grew up with Picasso as a frequent visitor to the farm he shared with his artist parents.  Now in his 60s, Penrose recounts his personal experiences with the legendary artist, from a trip to his studio in France to the time he bit Picasso–and Picasso promptly bit him back.

Because the book is created from little Antony’s memories, it easily and quickly draws young readers in.  Instead of recounting dry facts about Picasso, this is a memoir packed with all kinds of information a child would find interesting.  Are you really going to meet Esmeralda, the goat who slept outside Picasso’s bedroom, in your average biography?  Probably not, but you’ll read about her here!  Important facts are woven into the anecdotes and memories and related to the stories.

The Boy Who Bit Picasso is great fun to look at, too.  Jack particularly enjoyed the many photographs, most of which were taken by the author’s mother, the famous photographer Lee Miller.  Picasso’s artwork is also shown, including sculptures, sketches, and even a drawing made for Penrose himself when he was having a difficult time at school.  Jack went back to the book several times after we finished reading it just to look at the pictures.

After reading The Boy Who Bit Picasso, I found Pablo Picasso to be less of a famous artist and more of an interesting person.  Antony Penrose takes a larger-than-life figure and makes him knowable, even for children.  This book was an invaluable addition to our Picasso study.  It’s too bad we’ll never know if any kids pestered Monet or Michelangelo!