abstract koi fish art project for kids

Abstract Art Project for Kids: Koi Fish

Painting Koi Fish Art Project for Kids

The Koi fish at the Grant Hyatt Resort in Kauai were so beautiful that we surreptitiously fed them as you can see in the videos. I had never seen so many Koi fish swimming together with such gorgeous colors. I was inspired to turn this into an art project after seeing Deep Space Sparkle’s gorgeous 6th grade Koi fish paintings.

I wanted to capture the movement of the Koi fish, rather than fuss with trying to render it accurately. (If that is your thing, here’s a guide that uses simple shapes to get the basic drawing of the fish. It’s perfect for kids who want a realistic rendition.) I’m aiming for an abstract painting that is more about color, movement and shape than representational.

Because I’m not an art teacher, I had to recruit my kids to give it a whirl.They protested but once the project was set up with some creative painting canvas ideas, they seemed to have fun doing it. We painted it very fast on small postcard size pieces of heavy watercolor paper. (Arches 140 pound cold press. I love that paper!). I’d suggest giving each person 3 or 4 squares of paper and doing a new painting for each video plus one for the still.

I played three videos of Koi fish. Each video has a different style of music. Try making a painting for each video using the music to inspire your art. How does music affect what and how you paint? Feel free to stop any video if you are inspired to capture that image as well. Anything goes. This is for fun!

This first video has mellow rock and roll soundtrack.

This second video has piano music.

This last sound track is techno but very soothing.

Here’s a still image if the movement is too distracting. If you’d like to paint one fish more representationally, here’s a basic outline from HowToDrawGuide.com.

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how to draw koi fish

Here’s a basic outline of a Koi Fish from HowToDrawGuide.com

And this is what we turned out.

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abstract koi fish art project for kids

abstract koi fish art project for kids

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This abstract pencil drawing was done by GrasshopperAndSensei.com while listening to pop music.













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I saw this Koi fish painting in Winchester, MA at an art gallery window. Try painting a version of this Koi too!










Who knew that a koi pond could have a built-in “skyscraper” or a sun-filled observation tower so that the fish could look across their landscape… or maybe they think they’re swimming in the sky? Via Neatorama.

Chinese Painting Techniques for Exquisite Watercolors by Lian Quan Zhen

For anyone who wants to try Chinese brush painting to capture the Koi fish, this is a great book.

click on image above to view at Amazon … or below at Barnes and Noble.

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Follow PragmaticMom’s board Art with Kids on Pinterest.

By Mia Wenjen, PragmaticMom


  1. Asianmommy

    Pretty! I love looking at koi fish swimming. We have that as a screensaver.
    Asianmommy recently posted…Fall at Starved RockMy Profile

  2. Artchoo

    Beautiful! I love this project- and The different music to the 3 videos. What a great idea! Tell Grasshopper I love her drawing a whole bunch.

    • Hi Artchoo!
      Thank you! I definitely will! She refused to paint in watercolor because she prefers acrylic but her board turned into a muddy color and she got discouraged. I’ll tell her you like her drawing AND that you went to RISD. That will make her sooo happy! She wants to go to RISD too!

  3. Ann

    I love all of these! What a great idea to work from video!!!
    Ann recently posted…It’s a Bird! It’s a Plane! Deer and Shark EditionMy Profile

    • Hi Ann,
      Thanks so much! I just loved the movement of the Koi fish. I’m trying to think of art projects that are not representational or have the option not to be representation because I think that if kids feel their art work doesn’t “look” like the thing they are trying to capture that they are bad at art and sort of give up on it. Art is for everyone and everyone can be successful at art. I think it’s like riding a bicycle — some people may have natura ability such that they can do it faster or younger, but anyone can do it if they just stick with it. Apparently, authors say the same thing about writing a book!

  4. I love abstract artwork. I’ve let my kids do their own artwork for their rooms. They loved it. Thanks for linking up to tip-toe thru tuesday. I hope we see you again this week.
    Christy recently posted…Tissue Paper Craft {Kids Craft}My Profile

    • Hi Christy,
      Thanks so much for hosting Tip-Toe Tuesday! Yes, I’d love to link up! How fun that your kids get to decorate their own rooms with their abstract artwork! I’d love to see it. Does it happen to be on your blog?

  5. We love Koi Fish and we love your artwork great job!!

  6. This is a great idea and I think we will try it. We have a lovely pond in our local botanical gardens with lots of koi and that would be a great inspiration for us.
    Erica Price recently posted…Tipu’s TigerMy Profile

  7. I love the fluid art you painted versus focusing heavily on the perfect rendition of a koi fish. I have to say that I am always drawn to koi fish ponds and can spend hours there if at all possible – it’s so relaxing, isn’t it?

    Thanks for sharing this on Kids Get Arty. I love how much you have in the post with the videos and books and extra art.
    Mom to 2 Posh Lil Divas recently posted…Kids Picasso Style Portrait Art (Kids Get Arty)My Profile

  8. What a wonderful project. Your koi fish turned out so beautiful too. Love it.

    Thanks for joining in with Kids Get Arty!

    maggy, red ted art recently posted…Kids Crafts: Egg Carton Chicken Egg CupsMy Profile

  9. I love these – they look really beautiful.

    Am featuring at this week’s Empty Your Archive – thanks so much for sharing, Alice
    Alice recently posted…Easy DetoxMy Profile

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