Inspiring children one color at a time

James Rizzi Skyscraper Art Lesson

By on Feb 3, 2012 | 10 comments

James Rizzi has left his mark on the world. His amazing illustrations has made an indelible impression on me and my students. Last Fall, my sixth graders did a unit on James Rizzi which included Faces and Simple Birds. This time we had fun with James Rizzi Inspired Skyscrapers. This is a super easy lesson for older students. 100% fun and successful.

Kids draw and paint a funky cityscape inspired by American artist, James Rizzi.

The technique is simple: oil pastel and watercolors. I explained the technique here and used the same 2012 James Rizzi Wall Calendar  for inspiration and drawing guidelines.

Kids draw and paint a funky cityscape inspired by American artist, James Rizzi. I think it’s important to use watercolor paper, no matter what the quality, as that is what makes the project so vibrant. If you use regular construction paper, the watercolor paints soaks into the paper fibers which would result in a dull appearance. Also, make sure to press hard with the black oil pastel.

The drawing is easy for older students. Instead of straight rectangular buildings, students added curved lines and interesting shapes as a substitute. A few pictures of any James Rizzi skyscraper art is all students need to be inspired!

Kids draw and paint a funky cityscape inspired by American artist, James Rizzi.

Aren’t these wonderful. This lesson didn’t take long; just two, 50 minute classes. It helps to use small watercolor paper (9 x 12) to aid in the rapid completion of the project.

Sixth Grade Skyscrapers…

Kids draw and paint a funky cityscape inspired by American artist, James Rizzi.

This post contains affiliate links

New here? Teaching art is fun but it can be overwhelming. Join our newsletter community and be inspired with lesson ideas, drawing handouts and teaching tips. Click HERE to enter your email and receive TWO of my most popular PDF art lesson plans—just for joining.


  1. These are just beautiful, Patty! Ihaven’t done a Rizzi project yet, but I think this one would be a great way to start. Thanks for the tutorial/photo’s. It really helps when lesson plannig. :) Pat

    Pat Stevens

    February 3, 2012

  2. This is a fantastic idea!!!! My Art Club ages range from 5 years to 10 so always on the look out for a VERY flexible project!


    February 6, 2012

  3. Love these! My third grades would have a blast with this artist! Started gathering info on him so I can develop a lesson plan for them! So sad to learn he recently passed away so young. Thanks for sharing!


    February 6, 2012

  4. Your site is awesome. As a substitute teacher,I often need quality projects and great lessons to fall back on. Inspiring work.
    roly Harvey

    Roland Harvey

    November 17, 2012

  5. Hi Caleb lovessssss it sooooooooooo much <3<3

    Caleb Tyler

    September 12, 2013

  6. Could you use a canvas panel for this?

    Lee Anne McCalley

    January 10, 2015

    • If you did then I would assume you would switch paints…perhaps acrylic?

      Patty Palmer

      January 10, 2015


  1. A Touch of Whimsy! « Toomanyflower's Travels - [...] found a great lesson idea on Deep Sea Sparkle and we had a go, it has taken two weeks …
  2. Dots and Skyscrapers « More than Macaroni - [...] Kindergarten learned what an artist portfolio is this week. Then, after watching The Dot being read via a youtube …
  3. Skyscrapers | Tell Me and I'll Forget - […] Based on this lesson from Deep Space Sparkle. […]

Post a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *