Picture Study and Recommended Artists

Picture study is extremely exciting to do together as a family.  It only takes a few minutes a day, once or twice a week, to acquaint your children with the some of the greatest artists in history. Below you will find a list of artist grouped together by artist type.  This is by no means a comprehensive list, but I have tried to include most of the well known and best loved artists.

Please caution that some of the artists listed below painted nudes, and there will most definitely be some pictures of nudes in at least some of the art books recommended. It is up to you, the parent, as to how to handle this situation.  Use your own judgement and it is always a good idea to pre-screen your art books BEFORE your kids look at them.  Handing a young child an art book that you haven’t looked at first can end in an awkward and upsetting situation.

How to do a Picture Study: Picture study is very simple.  Simply choose an artist that you would like to study. Either check out or buy a book containing samples of the artists work.  I prefer books with large prints in them when available.

Then, take a few minutes one or two days of the week and do a picture study.  Choose one or more pictures from your book and show them to your students, one at a time.  We usually only look at 1-3 pictures each lesson.  I would prefer to just look at one, but my kids beg to look at more, so I limit it to three. I generally won’t let the kids see the artists work from the book ahead of time.  This way, the pictures are new to them when we do our lesson.  The kids of course beg to look through the entire book ahead of time, but I generally keep to the rule of no peeking ahead in the book.  This keeps them excited and looking forward to the next lesson.

This is what we do:

1.  Take a few minutes to really look at the painting

2.  I take out my Looking at a Work of Art page and go down the list asking the children several of the questions.  Every picture is different.  Sometime the kids are fascinated with a picture and they give very detailed answers to the questions and we have a great discussion.  However, there are those  pictures the kids simply don’t like, and they give very short answers and want to move on to the next picture right away. An example would be, I ask the kids, “what is your least favorite thing about this picture?’  Answer, “Everything!  I hate this painting!”  I try to make the children elaborate on WHY they don’t like the picture.  Is it the use of color, the look on the people’s faces, the feeling it gives you? By asking these questions (at least some of them) with every picture, the children learn the questions by heart and know what to ask themselves when looking at art.  It’s a very good way to practice articulation of feelings.

3.  I always ask the children to try and guess the title of the picture.  Sometimes they get it right, and sometimes the title is so out there they could not have ever guessed it.  It’s loads of fun though! 4. Lastly, I tell them to take one long last look, and I put the picture away.  They each then take turns narrating the picture in detail.  When one of them gets a color wrong, the other one is quick to point this out, “No, the man’s jacket was red, not purple!”  This is a fun time for us all and I join in with them as well. All in all this actually doesn’t take longer than 15 minutes.

We study one artist for 6-12 weeks.  For us, that’s between one and two artists every term.  If we are loving an artist and the children want to keep looking at more pictures , or we decide to read a biography of the artist, then we extend it to 12 weeks.  On the other hand, if the children really don’t care for an artist and we decide not to read a biography, we will cut it short and move on to the next artist.

My children each have an Artist Notebook where they keep small prints of their favorite pictures from each artist we study.  I let my children find pictures by the artist on the internet, I then save the pictures and upload them to Wal-mart’s website to have prints made.  I buy the big photo album inserts and put them into a three ring binder.  You could also just use a photo album if you prefer. Also, if the children complete any notebooking pages or written narrations on an artist they put these in their notebook as well with the artists prints. Want to see our Artist Notebook?  View Samples of my daughter’s Artist Notebook here.


Recommended Online Art Gallery

This is by far the best collection of Artist and their artwork I have found online.  Artists are easily broken down, and searchable, by time period.  Create an account for each child and they can save the artwork that they like from each artist that you study.  This makes it easy to know what prints to buy to put into your Artist Notebook.


Artist To Get You Started

Below is a list of famous artists.  Pick any artist from the list to get started.

Caution: Please check out each artist carefully before you decide to study him or her to make sure you are comfortable with the types of images they portray. Nudity is most likely going to be there in some form, so it is your job to look through any art books before giving them to your children.

Also, click on the artist’s name below to be taken to our Notebooking Pages for that artist.


  • Salvador Dali
  • Henri Rousseau
  • Max Ernst

Pop Art

  • Andy Warhol
  • Roy Lichtenstein
  • Claes Oldenberg
  • David Hockney


  • Bellini
  • Botticelli
  • Bruegel
  • da Vinci
  • Durer
  • Michelangelo
  • Raphael
  • Titian
  • Uccello
  • Van Eyck


  • Henry Matisse


  • Paul Klee


  • Mary Cassatt
  • Paul Cézanne
  • Edgar Degas
  • Paul Gauguin
  • Vincent van Gogh
  • Claude Monet
  • Berthe Morisot
  • Pierre Auguste Renoir


  • Marc Chagall
  • Wassily Kandinsky
  • Ludwig Kirchner


  • Vincent Van Gogh
  • Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec
  • Paul Gauguin
  • Paul Cezanne


  • Paul Seurat
  • Paul Signac


  • Donatello
  • Giotto
  • Leon Battista Alberti
  • Cimabue
  • Filippo Brunelleschi
  • Fra Angelico
  • Lorenzo Ghiberti


  • Sonia Delaunay
  • Jackson Pollock


  • Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec
  • Leonardo Da Vinci
  • Gustave Courbet
  • Honore Daumier
  • Thomas Eakins
  • John Singleton Copley


  • Pablo Picasso
  • Marc Chagall
  • Georges Braque

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