Abstract art project for kids, Arthur Dove, crayon abstract art project for kids

Arthur Dove Abstract Art Project for Kids

Abstract Art by Kids inspired by Arthur Dove

The art of Arthur Dove (August 2, 1880 – November 23, 1946) at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston is child-like, is it not? Ok, maybe a really talented child. He is considered the first American abstract painter. The girls and I found him on the third floor of the new American wing’s Modernist collection. We hunt down PickyKidPix‘s favorite artist, Jackson Pollock, whose No. 10, 1949 hangs there too.

Jackson Pollack, Number 9, Museum of Fine Arts,

Modernist Artist Arthur Dove (a little art history)

This is the painting that caught my eye. With just simple shapes and a few colors, Dove conveys a nature scene. I love the colors and its simplicity.

Evening Blue, 1941. In this lyrical composition, Dove solidified moonlight into distinct planes and geometric shapes. The deep cobalt tones evoke the color of the night sky. Museum of Fine Arts Plate

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There were more!

Arthur Dove, kids art project inspired by Arthur Dove

abstract artist Arthur Dove

Dancing Willows, about 1944. Dove explored the problem of representing motion, dance and music throughout his career. In his latest work, the artist used planes of color to to evoke the shifting, intersecting patterns of light and shade, as a group of willow trees sways in the breeze. Museum of Fine Arts Plate

Arthur Dove, abstract art projects for kids

That Red One, 1944. Around 1910 Dove began to experiment with abstraction — one of the very first Americans to do so. He continued to explore non-representational styles throughout his career, but his images always retained some grounding in nature. Near the end of his life, he painted this simple, compelling image, possibly based on a sunrise over water. Dove spoke of wanting to show “the point where reality and abstraction meet.” Museum of Fine Arts Plate


Abstract Art Project for Kids Based on Arthur Dove

I wanted to use sea shells as the focal point of an art project based on the art of Arthur Dove. Use any sea shell you want. Here are some we have in our house. Now, imagine a beach scene and draw or paint in the style of Arthur Dove.

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Can you imagine a beach scene or would you prefer to have a photo? Here’s some images.

Can you combine a sea shell and a beach scene into your own composition? You can make it up or use these photos.

sea birds at shore

egret or heron

hawaii beach

poipu beach hawaii

Now, let’s try making a drawing or painting in the style of Arthur Dove using his ideas like:

  • Simple shapes
  • Strong colors
  • Different shades of one color

Try using just a few colors. We are going to try this with crayon but oil pastel or paint would work well too!

Use any medium you like!

You could also just cut shapes out of construction paper.

Use what you have and what inspires you.

There are no rules here except one: Have Fun!

Here’s what we came up with:

Abstract art project for kids, Arthur Dove, crayon abstract art project for kids

Abstract art project for kids, Arthur Dove, crayon abstract art project for kids

Abstract art project for kids, Arthur Dove, crayon abstract art project for kids

Follow PragmaticMom’s board Art with Kids on Pinterest.

By Mia Wenjen, PragmaticMom


  1. Asianmommy

    Beautiful pictures–what a nice project!
    Asianmommy recently posted…Build-A-Bear Year of the SnakeMy Profile

  2. What a fun idea! Love that piece by Pollock. They made such lovely art and best of all, they had fun. Start them early at the museums and they will enjoy them for a lifetime.
    Winnie recently posted…"Swell" NewsMy Profile

    • Hi Winnie,
      It’s funny but my kids don’t like the Contemporary Art museum in Boston, just the Museum of Fine Arts. The more contemporary art was too strange for them. My youngest, age 8, has the least patience for art museums. We are hoping that will change because he’s so bored and annoying at art museums that he cuts the trip short for everyone else.
      Pragmatic Mom recently posted…Arthur Dove Abstract Art Project for KidsMy Profile

  3. Jeanette Nyberg

    Love these! What a great idea, and I wasn’t really familiar with his work, but I’m kinda liking it. Abstract art is my fav. We’ll try this approach- I just have to dig out some shells from somewhere.
    Jeanette Nyberg recently posted…Teenage Boys Get Creative – Paracord BraceletsMy Profile

    • Hi Jeanette,
      You can use the photos of the shells if you like. Or omit them altogether. Or add in a piece of wood or a leaf (or anything). The idea for the shell was just to have the kid use it to compose his or her own composition and have an interesting shape to work with. But, some of the beach images might work too as is.
      Pragmatic Mom recently posted…Arthur Dove Abstract Art Project for KidsMy Profile

  4. Catherine Johnson

    Beautiful pictures, I love impressionism and I always doodled at school. I wish I’d dared to paint abstracts, that would be a heavenly life!
    Catherine Johnson recently posted…Catherine gives ThanksMy Profile

  5. I’ll have to show this post to my six-year-old – I bet she would enjoy this activity!
    maryanne recently posted…Baby Play with Siblings: Baby SchoolMy Profile

  6. Another wonderful and beautiful art project. Do love the bright simple colours the kids chose.

    Thanks for joining in with Kids Get Arty.

    maggy, red ted art recently posted…Kids Get Arty: Andy Warhol ArtMy Profile

  7. Ann

    Discovered Arthur Dove too at the MFA! I think it is a great idea to start with shells to crate an abstract piece!
    Ann recently posted…Snow SurpriseMy Profile

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