Saturday, August 25, 2007

Great American Artists for Kids / Grandma Moses art idea

I've been working on a new book with Kim Solga. Great American Artists for Kids: Hands-On Art in the Styles of American Masters. Covers artists from the beginning of America through the Present. Seems like I like the contemporary people more than I realized, and Kim is great at coming up with projects for the more traditional artists, though she can work across the board as well. Here's an example from the rough draft for "Grandma Moses (Anna Mary Robertson Moses)" called BUSY SCENE.


Grandma Moses
September 7, 1860 - December 13, 1961
20th century American primitive folk art

Grandma Moses took up painting when she was 75 years old, and painted 1600 paintings, more than 225 of them after her 100th birthday! She passed away at 101. Grandma Moses began her life a year before the Civil War as Anna Mary Robertson, the third of 10 children, and was warmly encouraged by her father to draw and paint. From age 12 until she married at age 27, she worked at a neighboring farm. She married Thomas Moses, and together they farmed with their five surviving children (five of their ten children died in infancy). After her husband died, Anna Mary Moses, known as Grandma Moses to everyone, began painting scenes of life and celebrations seen in her upstate New York where she had lived most of her life. Grandma Moses was a self-taught painter, who, because of arthritis in her fingers, couldn’t do her embroidery work and turned to oil painting instead. Grandma Moses painted from the sky down: first the sky, then the mountains, next the land, and last of all, the tiny busy people. She worked from memory on pieces of old wood painted white, or on strong cardboard. Grandma Moses was feisty, strong, kind, and one of the most famous folk artists in 20th century America. Grandma Moses once said, “Painting’s not important…the important thing is keeping busy. If I didn't start painting, I would have raised chickens."

Busy Scene
Like Grandma Moses, start from the sky down and paint the background of a neighborhood, classroom, playground, park, or other interesting scene, real or imaginary. When dry, add in busy people and all the details of their lives, celebrations, or activities. Fill the painting with details.

choice of something white to paint on -
flat piece of wood, painted white cardboard, painted white
heavy white paper cardboard, covered with white paper
white posterboard white cardboard box lid
choice of paints – tempera or acrylic
paintbrushes in various sizes, including fine tip
jar of water, rag

1. Think of a busy scene that would be interesting to imagine or remember. Choosing to paint an imaginary or pretend scene is fine too.
2. Begin by preparing the background of the scene. Paint from the sky down, making mountains or hills with a larger brush and paint. Let dry.
3. Next, add as many activities and people, characters, pets, houses, and so on as desired. Fill the scene with activities and details. When satisfied, allow the painting to dry completely.

If paints seem too messy or hard to control for detailed small work, try drawing with fine tip markers instead. Additionally, lightly touch a moistened fine-point paintbrush to some of the markings to blend colors, if desired.

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MaryAnn Kohl

MaryAnn Kohl
author of twenty books of art projects and activities for kids of all ages


About the Author, Educator, and Presenter

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Bellingham, WA, United States
Bright Ring Publishing was founded in 1985 with the first book by MaryAnn Kohl titled: Scribble Cookies: Creative Independent Art Experiences for Children. MaryAnn is the author of 20 books on art activities for children that value the process of creative art more than the finished product. View MaryAnn's books and sample art activities from all of her books at:

MaryAnn Presents!

MaryAnn Kohl is available to travel to your location and host a keynote presentation followed by a hands-on art workshop on the topic of your choice. Favorite presentations currently include: "Enhancing Literacy Through Easy Art Experiences" and "Kids Discover the Great Masters". Check MaryAnn's website for full information on fees and meeting your particular needs.