James Rizzi Skyscraper Art Lesson

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. Elisa says:

    I LOVE this project and went online to purchadse a calendar of my own

    They are seliing for 3000
    THREE THOUSAND dollars for a wall calendar – am I missing something?

  2. Pat Stevens says:

    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

  3. WOW!!! I love these Patty! Will have to purchase some new watercolor paper! :)

  4. Yvonne says:

    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!

  5. Tery says:

    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!

  6. [...] found a great lesson idea on Deep Sea Sparkle and we had a go, it has taken two weeks but the pictures are great, we used watercolours, very [...]

  7. [...] Kindergarten learned what an artist portfolio is this week. Then, after watching The Dot being read via a youtube video . . . . . they painted dots on their portfolios. Big, little, medium. Dots inside of dots. Dots around dots. Some just made one huge messy muddy dot . .. But most didn’t. (idea from Art Projects for Kids) 6th grade just finished up their James Rizzi inspired faces and/or sky scrapers. Rizzi At first I was going to make a division by having 5th doing skyscrapers and 6th do faces, but then I thought . . . why? So instead I just let them choose for themselves. Many of them wanted to do both. 5th grade isn’t finished, but here are some 6th grade results. I’ve found that kids now-a-days love adding vampire fangs to everything. Made with black oil pastel, watercolor, and then some went back with colored oil pastel to add more detail and Rizzi-craziness. Lesson idea came from Deep Space Sparkle. [...]

  8. Roland Harvey says:

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

  9. Esther says:

    Thanks a lot for sharing, it’s a great idea, I do James Rizzi’s class with my 5-6 years-old kids and they love him, we do a city landscape, with lots of buildings, and they enjoy a lot . You can see all the drawings here:

  10. Caleb Tyler says:

    Hi Caleb lovessssss it sooooooooooo much <3<3

  11. Lee Anne McCalley says:

    Could you use a canvas panel for this?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.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

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

About Patty

I teach art to 400 school children in Goleta, California. My art library contains hundreds of free art lesson ideas. My shop has art lesson plans, videos and resources to help you teach art to kids. It's a whole lot easier with Deep Space Sparkle.

Art Lesson Categories