Lady Liberty with Watercolor or Newspaper


The Statue of Liberty is a great subject for teaching art techniques; watercolor, collage, tempera, marker…pick any medium and the project will turn out great. The drawing itself is quite simple, especially if you stick to the head and shoulders.


For this lesson, I panned out and asked my students to draw the entire length of the statue, complete with a city scene in the background.


  • 12″ x 18″ white paper
  • Black waterproof marker (Sharpie Brand is great)
  • Colored markers (I use Crayola Brand)
  • Liquid watercolor (blues and a green/black)
  • Optional: Embellishments such as paper scraps, sequins, etc.

Drawing Lady Liberty

Drawing statue of liberty on paper.

For this project, I decided against pencils and erasers. Fifth graders tend to be perfectionists and if given a pencil, will toil away for hours getting the draping just right. Of course, if you are doing this project at home and time is not a concern, go ahead, use a pencil. But in my opinion, learning to draw without an eraser is very rewarding.

I often ask my students to draw with just a marker. In order for this to work, you need to do a little work yourself. I demonstrate different ways to draw Lady Liberty on the whiteboard. I use a marker (or course) and prove that if mistakes happen, they can be “fixed”. Try this yourself and make sure that not one of your finished Lady Liberty’s are perfect. The drapes on the dress, the curls in the hair and points on the crown all yield well to mistakes, so really try to instill in your students that mistakes happen and you can still have great art.

Remember to mention that if the kids run out of room, it’s okay to go off the page.

Painting Lady Liberty:

Coloring in statue of liberty on paper.

Once the students complete the drawing of Lady Liberty and the background, set out a limited palette of watercolor paints. I like to combine green and black liquid watercolors to achieve the patina of the statue. If you don’t have liquid watercolors, use food coloring. It works great.
Suggest that the students consider painting the statue green (they don’t have to paint it all) and the water and sky. Big spaces=watercolor. Little spaces=marker.

Coloring the Details:
Statue of liberty colored in.
Once the paint is dry, pull out the markers. If you are a teacher, finishing the watercolor will allow you to manage the completion of this project better. Students who have completed the drawing and watercolor parts, can return to this project anytime to finish the coloring. Pulling out markers is much easier than prepping watercolor paint.

If you have any embellishments in your art closest, bring them out now. Some kids like to use sequins in the crown or skyscrapers. Since I have tons of painted paper scraps, I allow the students to access that as well. Some will chose to embellish, others won’t.
Fifth Grade Lady Liberty
Lady Liberty in Watercolor Art Lesson Gallery


This lesson came from the summer ’07 issue of Arts and Activities Magazine. Writer/Art teacher Debra Sweeney created a great project that tied American history with personal history. Her lesson involved researching family trees, but I decided to stick with the pure art possibilities of this amazing monument.

It all begins with a drawing of the Statue of Liberty.

Statue of Liberty outline drawing

Spray bottle
Oil pastel, tempera paint

Adding the newsprint

Before the class, I took a bunch of sections from the newspaper and sprayed it with a watercolor solution (green and black liquid watercolor diluted in water). This is best done outside unless you want green carpet or floors.
Using a light box (which works the best) or a sunny window, the students traced their liberty faces onto the green-tinged newsprint. They included the face, neck and shoulders only. The cut-out newspaper face is glued over the original drawing. Do you have to do this step? No. Perhaps it would be easier just to draw the face onto the newsprint. Next time, this is what I will do!

Lady Liberty collage

Adding color and embellishments

The students were instructed to think of scenes that symbolize America or New York City. Broadway, fireworks, American flag, skyline, etc. The different ideas were wonderful. Using markers (prismacolor markers are the best) the students colored in any section they wished. Some kids used oil pastel with watercolor washes, tempera paints and even translucent paper to create amazing effects for their background.

My fifth grade class had a great time demonstrating their unique art perspectives with this piece. No two were alike!

Final result of Lady Liberty collage

What do you think?

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


  • Amy

    Hi! I just found your blog and have to say it is amazing! Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful talents with all of us fellow teachers out there and all the students whose lives I know you have touched! Being a regular elementary classroom teacher, who doesn't consider herself very good at art, I am excited to use your ideas in my regular classroom!!

    Thank you so much!

  • Janice Skivington

    I am definitely going to use this Lady Liberty lesson and the space shuttle idea before this. these are so creative and dynamic too.
    I have found that you are right about the directed drawing techniques. grade school kids are at a developmental stage where they want to draw a realistic image and are very pleased with the results. It gives them such confidence. Space shuttles and cities appeal to the boys who need to enjoy art as much as girls. (Girls tend to draw rainbows and hearts all the time anyway.)

  • Miss Packham

    I love this idea! My school does a huge art show for Veteran's Day, I think this would be a great project to display. I've noticed that you suggest liquid watercolor with your watercolor projects. I'm new to teaching and haven't experimented with liquid watercolor before. Your projects seem to be a lot brighter and more controlled than those I do with my students. What is the benefit vs. palette watercolors?

  • Phyl

    Hi Patty, as usual, nice project. However, as a New Yorker who has seen Lady Liberty many times, I must note that her pedestal base is easily as tall as she is, and pedestal and all, she is ON AN ISLAND. She doesn't just rise from the sea! It would be very cool to include itty bitty people on the island to really accentuate how very tall she is.

  • Phyl

    Me again, I just wanted to say I hope I haven't offended you! I didn't mean to, so I apologize.

    Thanks so much for listing me on your art links. I appreciate it!

  • Patty Palmer

    Hi Miss Packham,
    Thanks for the nice comments. Liquid watercolor might seem expensive, but a little really goes a long way. I love the vibrant colors and yes, I do think they are better than pan watercolors. Others might disagree but my experience favors liquid watercolors. My students love them as well. I would encourage you to buy a set and experiment with your students.

  • Bluebird

    I LOVE your blog! Great ideas, pictures, and very easy to navigate! You have inspired me to attempt my own blog on my art classes and I will definitly have to borrow some of your ideas! Thank you!

  • meg duerksen

    i LOVE this!!!

  • Beth

    What about using liquid tempera instead of watercolor? (I’m asking b/c I have it already.)

    • Patty

      Hi Beth,
      Yes. Watered down tempera would work well. Just make sure it is transparent enough to resist the oil pastel. If you’re not looking for a resist, then by all means, use tempera paint.

  • Debbie Arnold

    I just did this with my first and second graders – it tied in great with our book of the month “America Is” by Louise Borden.We drew her on newpaper and then lightly sprayed her with greenish black watercolor Thanks so much for your wonderful ideas

  • Pat

    Great project, just did it with my fourth grade and it was a nice curriculum extension.We looked at other artist’s work of the statue so students would see that it didn’t have to be perfect.Having the “essence” of Lady Liberty, torch,crown,tablet,robes would make her recognizable. Everyone was successful, no
    one got “stuck”

  • laura

    I used this lesson during our study of the Northeast in Social Studies. My students kept saying how much fun they were having throughout the whole project. They turned out great. Thanks for the tips!

    • adeline kilgore

      I am going to try it too I like your drawings

  • billi

    I love everything you do! Patty, you are such an inspiration. Thanks for sharing all you awesome art ideas!

  • Janice Testagrossa

    Love this!

Follow Us

In stores 8/21


The {lesson_title} Lesson is Locked inside of the {bundle_title}

Unlocking this lesson will give you access to the entire bundle and use {points} of your available unlocks.

Are you sure?

No Yes

The {bundle_title} is Locked

Accessing this bundle will use {points} of your available unlocks.

Are you sure?

No Yes



The {lesson_title} Lesson is Locked inside of the {bundle_title}

To unlock this lesson, close this box, then click on the “lock” icon.