Create beautiful drawings inspired by the modern art paintings of early female abstract artist Hilma af Klint.
Updated April 2023
Many art history experts credit Wassily Kandinsky for introducing abstraction into painting. However, not many know that Hilma af Klint was already producing abstract work as early as 1906.
This was years before Kandinsky and makes her the earliest explorer of a brand new art movement that continues to this day. No doubt her tendency to work privately, without exhibitions, was key in keeping this a secret for so long.
Hilma af Klint, born in 1862, showed an early ability in the arts and first worked in a natural style painting many portraits and landscapes. It was only later, in her mid-40s, that she split with her conventional work and started creating her considerable body of abstract art.
Hilma painted with what appears to be a fresh and a modern look, even by today’s standards. The many shapes and lines she loved to repeat; shells, circles, loopy lines and more, often appeared in her 1000+ paintings and drawings she created in her lifetime.
Modern Art Painting for Kids
Hilma’s art can be a wonderful reminder to children that drawing and painting can be about creating something brand new AND purely from their imagination.
For inspiration, a quick view of the large collection of Hilma’s art will show students that Hilma liked to work with common themes and color schemes. The many organic shapes she favored probably came from her love of nature. Her later work with lots of precise geometric shapes, were perhaps inspired by her love of math, which she was also said to be quite adept at.
Either way, Hilma’s work has much to offer kids about keeping an open mind to what art can be, and what it can look like. Create an abstract painting with help from the tutorial below and create modern art for kids!
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This new tutorial encourages students to use the elements that Hilma enjoyed but to make it their own with a variety of geometric shapes, sizes and colors. The process is still broken into steps but serves merely as a starting point.
Draw directly with crayons to keep the spontaneity going and fill in the shapes with lots of watercolors to add color without covering up any of the lines (one of the joys of a watercolor resist painting).
- Tutorial for an Hilma af Klint Abstract Lesson (click to open)
- Watercolor paper
- Watercolor paint (tray or liquid)
Time needed: 45 minutes
- Create a shell shape
Draw one or more shells somewhere on the paper.
- Draw spirals
Add one or more loop-de-loops across the paper.
- Add ovals and circles
Now draw one or more ovals and circles with smaller shapes inside.
- Add more shapes and lines
Fill in the remaining open areas with curves that go off the page, and lots of little doodle shapes.
Fill all the spaces with watercolors.
5 More Modern Artists for Kids
Best known for his sculpture, Alberto Giacometti had a distinctive way of depicting the human body, which children can use to practice different body poses.
René Magritte once painted a large, unblinking eye to make a comment on vision. Having students draw and finish one to their liking will give them a chance to make their own statement.
Joan Miro offers inspiration for drawing very simple body poses. The shapes that sometimes intersect each other will create lots of places for them to change color, and lead to conversations about “open” and “closed” shapes.
Gustav Klimt’s decorative art is adored by many, especially his “Tree of Life” painting. Students can learn how to create very eye-pleasing compositions when they follow his way of drawing curly and fanciful trees.
Henri Matisse’s love of color and pattern is wonderful inspiration for adding extra pop to even the simplest of still life drawings.
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