Paint Like the Great Jasper Johns

Paint like Jasper Johns

HBD Jasper Johns who is celebrating his 87th birthday! This visual artist, sculptor and printmaker has been in the forefront of American art. His use of flags, letters, numbers, maps and targets makes his work popular with the wider audience.  It’s the process of layering and adding texture that brings his work to life and gives it another dimension.

Take a look at Jasper Johns art, we love the Three Flags, Numbers in Color and even his white paintings. Have your little one make their own observations by asking questions. Sample questions:

  • what can be seen in the painting?
  • what makes his number artworks interesting to look at?
  • what do they like/dislike?
  • what colours can be seen?

With this art project we used an alphabet package of stickers that we found in the scrapbooking aisle. It was a perfect marriage of an art activity incorporating learning for a preschooler who needs to have a hands on practice with the alphabet.  However, this project isn’t limited to letters, you could use numbers too or other iconic shapes.


  • alphabet stickers
  • paint (we mainly used tempura paint and some acrylic)
  • paintbrushes
  • paint foam brushes in various sizes
  • canvas
  • palette


Our favourite colour at the moment are the two in the photo above, unfortunately the photos doesn’t do them justice.  Magenta and teal, what a great pair. We first covered the canvas with these two colours along with some white to add the look of texture.  It doesn’t matter how you cover it, try to vary your brush strokes, add a hand print or two, stamp the colours.  The more variety the better the effect and the more fun and learning for you.


Let the canvas dry, we cheated a little by using a hair dryer.  Start to add your letter, numbers or other shapes.  It could be random, in a grid or layered. JJ explored them all. We went with random.

Now paint another layer, this time we went with cooler colours to contrast the warm background we first painted thus giving the layers a equal attention. We used a green, mint and white. Once dried, peel of some letters and keep some for that added dimension. Check out the video to see how well this project turned out.

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