James Rizzi

















Today I am going to share with you a fourth grade lesson that I have done over the years. This lesson is inspired by the artist James Rizzi. I just love his work! He uses so many bold and bright colors with such large expressive characters and images. It makes his work just perfect to use in an elementary classroom.

We spent the first day of this lesson just exploring some of his works and talking about all the different things we see in them. The students particularly enjoyed “City Day – City Night” with its split background.


This lesson required very little guided instruction. I showed the students a few different ways to start their building and gave them an order to follow while drawing, but I did not show them any specific details. The order was to make sure they got some of the critical stylistic points on their page.

1st – Draw ALL of your building shapes

2nd – Give them FACES

3rd – Get creative with your windows, doors, and extras!


Then I turned on a slide show of different Rizzi cities and they got to drawing. When the drawings were finished we outlined them with black oil pastels. This step is not necessary however, I like to do it on the first paintings of the year. That way when the kiddos get a little overly excited and start to think “USE ALL THE COLORS!” they have little barrier walls preventing too much mixing. In the past I have used prang watercolors and large tempera cakes to paint these but this year we had fun with the Loew-Cornell Simply Art Watercolors. I love the variety in each student’s finished painting. This project is always a big hit!



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