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Art History Inspired Crafts!

Updated: May 25

One of the most fun parts of art is learning about its history! Each movement holds something special, and every artist expresses their story with a unique style. Whether you're painting a masterpiece or experimenting with a new craft, there are always fun ways to utilize art history for inspiration. Take a look!

Helen Frankenthaler Bookmarks

Helen Frankenthaler inspired watercolor bookmark craft at art studio in San Francisco

Get inspired by art history! This watercolor craft is perfect for a wide range of ages, allowing for creative exploration and expression. Helen Frankenthaler is recognized as one of the great AMerican 20th century painters. Her work was a large part of the transition from Abstract Expressionism to Color Field Painting. She invented the soak-stain technique used in this craft! She experimented throughout her six decade long career and worked with mediums like ceramics, sculpture, tapestry, and printmaking.

What You Will Need:

Watercolor craft materials for Helen Frankenthaler inspired bookmark craft

  • Watercolor paper

  • Watercolors

  • Paintbrush

  • tray/washable table

  • Water

  • Spray bottle

  • Scissors

  • Tape/glue

  • Yarn/Ribbon


  1. Begin placing your watercolor paper on a tray or washable table. Spray the paper to soak it in water.

  2. Drop small amounts of watercolor paint onto the paper and watch as the colors mix. Add more water and utilize your brush if the pigment is not blending easily.

  3. Allow time for your paper to dry.

  4. Cut your paper into rectangle shapes for your bookmark, and fun shapes like stars and hearts to add to the end of your bookmark string.

  5. Using tape or glue, add a piece of yarn or ribbon on to the back of your rectangle, and add your smaller fun shape onto the other end of the yarn or ribbon. You’re ready to read!

Alma Thomas Colorful Collage

Alma Thomas inspired collage at children's art studio in San Francisco

Get inspired by art history! This craft focuses on abstract shapes, colors, and patterns - just like the work of the artist Alma Thomas. Thomas emerged in the 1960s with a distinct style, and spent 35 years as an art teacher before transitioning into a full-time art practice. Thomas was the first African American woman to have a solo exhibition at the New York Whitney’s Museum of American Art, and is an inspiration and icon to many artists!

What You Will Need:

  • Colorful craft paper

  • Scissors

  • Glue


  1. Select a piece of craft paper to be your background color.

  2. Using the colors of the rainbow, cut small squares of each color.

  3. After deciding on a design you would like to make, begin placing the squares on the paper to create your design.

  4. When you feel confident in your placement of squares, glue them down.

  5. You're all done!

Basquiat Crown Craft

Jean-Michel Basquiat crown craft at children's art studio in San Francisco

Get inspired by art history! Jean-Michel Basquiat is a well known American artist who gained popularity in the 1980’s during the Neo-expressionist movement. His work was shown in many exhibitions, and The Whitney Museum of American Art held a retrospective of his work in 1992. His work brings together text, abstract markings, figures and a consistent color palette while addressing topics of class divisions, segregation, identity, and his experience within the black black community. This craft is inspired by an icon seen throughout his work, a crown recognizing inspirational and ambitious artists!

What You Will Need:

  • Cardboard or thick paper

  • Crayons

  • Ribbon

  • Scissors

  • Glue/tape

  • Hole Punch


  1. Begin by sketching the shape of your crown onto cardboard or thick paper.

  2. Cut this shape out, and punch holes on both sides where your ribbon will go.

  3. Using your crayons, add colorful sketches throughout the crown inspired by Basquiat paintings.

  4. Using a black crayon, add an outline to your crown.

  5. Take a long piece of ribbon and cut it in half. Tie one ribbon to each side of the crown, and you're ready to wear it!

What’s Happenin’ at the Studio?

Children's painting class at creative art studio in San Francisco

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