We are huge Keith Haring fans over here at the ArtyPants studio. He would have celebrated his 59th birthday on May 4th, unfortunately he passed away at the young age of 27. However, he left behind a legend as an American artist and social activist whose work reflected that of New York’s street culture of the 80’s. Let’s celebrate this colourful artist’s life and art style by making our own Haring inspired art.
Haring’s work is characterized by his use of bold lines, vivid colours and images expressing hope and exploring identity. He was influenced by graffiti and would draw people and animals in different combinations. His fame started in the subways when he would draw with chalk, but the action of drawing is also what motivated him to do more as it interacted with the public who became more and more interested in his work. This is also how got the nickname, Mr. Sketch.
I have taught this lesson many times over, starting in Seoul, South Korea where I taught English as a Second Language to grade 5 and 6 students. Our school was right outside a subway station and this was familiar to all the children, so teaching about Keith Haring seemed fitting.
- colour paper
- black china marker
- glue stick
- access to YouTube
There are lots of breakdancing on YouTube, when teaching I used this one to show how the art of dance could be used politically which is what Haring was about, to unify and bring hope. The children asked to watch more and would try to dance to the music.
Stop the video while a dancer is in an interesting position and have the children draw the person. It makes for some interesting reactions. I have been known to turn my computer upside down to show a perspective they are used to and can easily draw the figure.
Cut out the figures, and do more on different coloured paper to be used later when composing your whole picture. This project can be challenging when cutting; it is a great opportunity to teach how to cut a centre piece out.
I fold the paper slightly, then make a cut. Open the paper and insert your scissors in the hole. From here you are able to cut out shapes in the middle of the paper.
Glue your pieces onto a larger sheet of coloured paper. We started to use the pieces of paper from all of our cutting to compose our picture as well as make some paper airplanes.
We also used our black china marker to make lines that suggest movement, just like those you see in Haring’s work. Let the children freely create their whole picture with their dancers. I also love to talk about negative space; as the space in between the dancers is just as important.
As an art-based birthday party, this would make a great project and get everyone dancing with the music.