Inspiring children one color at a time

James Rizzi Birds Art Lesson

By on Oct 24, 2011 | 10 comments

Kids draw and paint a simple bird inspired by American artist, James Rizzi.Artist James Rizzi has been providing my art students with fabulous inspiration this Fall. After finishing another James Rizzi art lesson before class was over, some students continued on the Rizzi path and created these adorable birds. The 2012 James Rizzi Wall Calendar (English, German, French, Italian, Spanish and Dutch Edition) is a great visual aid for this lesson, so if you don’t have any “Rizzi” art, this is a good place to start.

This is what we did:

Kids draw and paint a simple bird inspired by American artist, James Rizzi.We drew a very simple line drawing of Rizzi’s famous bird image on a 9″ x 12″ piece of watercolor paper. Use a black oil pastel and start with two circles that touch in the middle. Add big dots for pupils. Draw two dots for the nostrils then add a big upside-down letter “U” over the head. Draw a letter “V” for the beak. Add a body, fluffy feathers on the chest and finally, stick legs.

Kids draw and paint a simple bird inspired by American artist, James Rizzi.Use pan watercolor or liquid watercolors (easier) and paint the bird first. Make sure the oil pastel line is dark and heavy. Not only will it add a graphic quality to your painting, it’ll act as a barrier for the watercolor paints. Next, wet the background paper with water and dab on blotches of watercolor paint. Done! How easy was that?

Fifth Grade Rizzi Birds (just as easily created with Kinders!)

Kids draw and paint a simple bird inspired by American artist, James Rizzi.



  1. These are so cute! I think James Rizzi is one of the most inspiring artists for kids.


    October 24, 2011

    • I love James Rizzi too and he’s still alive!!! I came across a book about him at a used bookstore, the kids love his artwork.

      Charlene Cloutier

      October 24, 2011

  2. Thank you so much for the James Rizzi projects. My students love them! We are ready for more.

    Whitney Compas

    October 25, 2011

  3. I just love these-had never heard of James Rizzi before seeing your lesson ideas. Really love the whole pop art thing and we are just finishing a Science Topic of Animals and Plants so this is perfect! My kids love them and have enjoyed learning about James Rizzi, so thank you so much!!!!

    Tamara Malcolm

    November 14, 2011

  4. I was so sad to hear of the passing of on 12-26-2011. I was planning on introducing his work to my second graders after the holiday break. I think now, I will have them make a tribute mural in his style to celebrate his life and the joy his art brought to all kids and those kids at heart.

    Elena Onorati

    January 2, 2012

    • This was just forwarded to me by a friend. It really warms my heart to hear of schools implementing My Uncle’s style. James is very well know in Germany, where an Elementary School was just recently named after him. Nothing would make the family happier to have his notoriety here in the United States. Our country needs more people like James Rizzi.

      Jennifer Rizzi

      March 9, 2012

      • Hi Jennifer,
        I’m so pleased that you enjoyed the post. I absolutely adore his illustrations and was excited to share his wonderful style with my students. It’s pretty safe to say that his art was a big hit with my students. They love him! I’m so sorry about his passing. Thank you so much for visiting.


        March 9, 2012

  5. your the best art person ever we always do you pictures at school in art


    March 26, 2013

  6. Your site continues to be a source of great inspiration to me as I research projects. I was looking for some bird projects, specifically birds with big eyes and beaks, and this lesson is perfect for some of the younger children I teach! I am so excited to share this with the kids over the summer – I see a possible collaborative piece of many birds!

    I work for Arts For Life, a North Carolina-based arts education non-profit. Our teachers work with kids and families in the hospital who are facing serious illnesses, including cancer and blood disorders. We have some truly talented young artists with very unique viewpoints. You can check out some of their work at our website:

    Thanks again for your generous and creative contributions to the arts education community, and for the inspiration you are spreading to these very special young folks!

    Betsey McLawhorn

    June 12, 2013


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