Create Like the Masters

By Dana Villamagna, Toca Magazine Writer

I love the visual arts and the stories of how artists create, but I have no formal art skills. Through years of art play, my kids and I have grown in our love of art and grown more comfortable with the art of imperfection. Sharing my passion for art with my kids in experimental ways makes learning about artists and great works of art fun for all of us — with no pressure to become one or create one!

  • Category: Creative and Maker Play
  • Target age: 4 and up
  • Skill level: Beginner
  • Materials: Stuff you can get quickly from the store or delivery
  • Prep time: 1 to 30 minutes

What You’ll Need

  • Online images of art by your favorite artists and/or iconic artists, or a book of great art. (I use the 1,000-plus page coffee table book “30,000 Years of Art,” as well as “The Art Book for Children” books.)
  • Information from books or online about the artist’s life and the methods they used to create their art.
  • Art supplies related to your projects.

The Activity

The Inspiration

For ideas, we keep a book of art displayed in our house on a coffee table and flip through the pages until something strikes our fancy. You can also browse amazing online collections (such as the Guggenheim or the Metropolitan Museum of Art)  for inspiration.

The Projects

Once you and your kid identify an artist’s style or work of art that inspires you, get creative and adapt their style to your project. My kids and I have:

  • Copied the line art of Joan Miro by closing our eyes and doodling lines on office paper, then going back and making pictures from the impromptu shapes


  • Taped sheets of paper under our kitchen table and painted upside down a la Michelangelo in the Sistine Chapel

  • Created Egyptian tomb wall art by snapping red-chalked string on our dining room wall to make grids


  • Splatter-painted a roll of butcher block paper spread across our driveway, in Jackson Pollock style

  • Styled food art on paper plates in honor of Giuseppe Arcimboldo

  • Made a “quilt” out of a queen-size bed sheet, a yard stick and fabric markers. My kids invited their friends over to draw squares and created a one-of-a-kind quilt.


More Fun/Bonus Ideas

Explore your local arts community by taking your kids to an art show, a pottery or fused glass studio or a DIY painting class. Many community arts centers offer classes suitable for older kids and adults to take together.


About the Author

Dana Villamagna, Toca Magazine Writer

Dana is a freelance writer, Montessori teacher, expert evaluator of digital media for kids and author of “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Vegan Eating for Kids.” She’s mom to two teenage daughters and a 10-year-old son.

Share a photo and win!

Share a photo of your family doing this activity in the comments on our Facebook post or on Twitter with #31DaysofPlay! Every Friday we’ll choose one photo from the week to win a Toca Boca Play Kit full of swag, stickers, and a $15 iTunes Gift Card.