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Teaching & Learning Art Online: Art Prompts

Sometimes all you need is a place to start.

Between our monthly Art Dares and the art prompts below, you’ll have plenty to choose from. You can adjust the prompts based on what supplies you have. For a lotus book, skip the book covers; you’ll still get a beautiful book! Show us what you make!  Tag us @art.prof on Instagram with #artprofshare.

Have questions or need more help?
Join the Art Prof Discord server, we have channels for educators in high school and college where you can get support and answers from other teachers! Prof Lieu checks in daily and will help out.

ART PROMPTS: 3D

Chipboard Sculpture

Chipboard Personality Sculptures
Create 2 abstract sculptures that represent 2 contrasting sides of your personality. Substitute chipboard with: toilet paper tubes, paper plates, paper, and more. Watch our video tutorial here

Accordion Artist Books

Accordion Artist Book
Cut a long sheet of paper, fold it into a zig zag, and you’ve got an artist book. Adding book covers is optional, watch our lotus fold books video tutorial for how to create book covers.

Styrofoam Cup Sculpture

Styrofoam Cup Sculpture
Cut up styrofoam cups into shapes using scissors, a utility knife to arrange an abstract, organic form. Hot glue is best, but pieces can also be inserted into and around each other by cutting slits in the styrofoam.

Coptic Stitch Bookbinding

Coptic Stitch Artist Book
Stitch your own coptic artist book!  You can skip the book covers, fancy threads, and bookbinding needle. (a regular sewing needle is fine!) Watch our video tutorial here. 

Lotus Fold Artist Books

Lotus Fold Artist Book

Skip the book covers and creating a lotus fold artist book. Folded squares are glued together to create a sculptural artist book. Watch our video tutorial here.

Still Life for Drawing

Still Life Arrangement
Half of a still life artwork is choosing the objects and arranging them! Follow Prof Lieu’s video tutorial on how to set up a still life, and shoot photos of your still lifes. Consider color saturation, contrast, diagonals, backdrops and more.

Folded Paper Sculpture

Abstract Paper Sculptures
Using thicker paper (like cardstock) cut, curl, fold, and shape individual shapes and assemble.  Glue is optional! Cut slits & holes into the paper to connect pieces.

Handmade Zine

Handmade Zine
A stapler and paper is all you need to make a zine, turn it into a comic, an illustrator story, or a stream of consciousness, anything goes!

Recycled Book Sculpture

Recycled Book Sculpture
Find an old book: rip, tear, fold, cut up the pages to create a sculpture on the surface of the open book. Wrap the book pages around wire, toothpicks, etc. to create thin shapes that can stand up.

Meandering Artist Book

Meandering Artist Book
Skip the book covers and creating a meandering artist book. Invent a path for the paper to unfold, then fill the book with words and/or images to tell a story. Watch our video tutorial here.

Toilet Paper Sculptures

Toilet Paper Sheet Sculpture
Get inspired by one of Sarah Sze’s early installations; create a sculpture from a single sheet of toilet paper. No glue required, although adding glue does provide more options!

ART PROMPTS: Illustration (any media)

Book Illustration in Gouache, Alex Rowe

Book Cover Illustration
Design a wrap around book cover for a story. Watch our video tutorial here. Our tutorial uses gouache, but you can use any media you want!

Pen & Ink Wash Illustration

Historical Illustration
Choose a historical event from any time period to illustrate in any media. Watch our video tutorial here. 

Character Design, Cat Huang

Character Design
Design an original character from any story. Watch our video tutorial here. Our tutorial uses ink & Photoshop, but you can use any media.

Marker Drawing, Elysha Tsai

The Things We Carry
Create an artwork that shows the bag you carry most often, including all of the items inside the bag.  Any media works! See project examples here. 

Mixed Media Acrylic Painting, Lauryn Welch

Taste or Texture
Create an artwork inspired by a taste or texture. Watch our video tutorial here. Our tutorial uses acrylic paint, but any media will work!

Imagined Underwater Landscape
Design a fantastical underwater landscape, invent your own corrals and plant life!  See project examples and our video tutorial here. Our video shows scratchboard, but any media works.

Editorial Illustration, Linoleum Block Printmaking

Editorial Illustration
Choose an article from the Opinion section of the New York Times, and create an editorial illustration. Watch our video tutorial here. (our tutorial shows linoleum block printmaking, but you can use any media!)

Fantastical Tree
Create an imagined tree, using references from nature and objects. See project examples and a preview video here. Our video shows pen & marker, but you can use any media.

Creature Design Illustration, Julie Benbassat

Creature Design
Design an original creature illustration, using visual references from nature. Any drawing material you have on hand will work! Watch our video tutorial here.

Take a Break, Clar Angkasa

Your Inner Voice
What does your inner voice say to you? What conversations and issues come up? Write a quick script between you and your inner voice. Our video tutorial shows a comic, but you can use any format or media.

Modern Myth Ink Wash Illustration

Modern Myth Illustration
Choose a myth and illustrate it in a contemporary setting. Characters and elements of the story should recognizable while having a contemporary interpretation. See our lesson plan and project examples here.

Oil Pastel Drawing, Julie Sharpe

Self-Portrait as a Fruit or Vegetable
If you were a fruit or vegetable, what would you be? Ask your friends and see what they say!  Create a self-portrait as a fruit or vegetable, any media works! See our lesson plan and project examples here. 

Imaginary Environment Drawing, Julie Benbassat

Imaginary Landscape
Use house plants, rocks, leaves as visual references to create an imaginary landscape in any drawing media. Watch our tutorial for tips on drawing backgrounds.

The Things We Carry, Collage, Jieru Lin

The Things We Carry
Create an artwork in any media that shows the bag you carry most often. Include all of the items inside the bag. See project examples here. 

Cooking Illustration

Cooking Recipe Illustration
Illustrate a recipe from the New York Times Cooking section. Use any format to visually show the step-by-step process and ingredients. See our lesson plan and project examples here. 

My Future Self, Drawing, Ross Hines

Your Future Self
What do think your future self will be?  What do you wish your future self to be? What do you imagine your future self will be doing? Interpret this theme in any media.  See project examples here

Carton Selfies, Casey Roonan

Cartoon Selfies
Fill a page with several character designs based on yourself, make them as diverse as possible. Our video tutorial uses a felt tip pen, but any media will work! 

Chapter Header Illustration, pen & ink wash, Alex Rowe

Chapter Header Portrait Illustration
Choose a chapter book and illustrate a portrait of a character in that chapter in a circle in any media.

ART PROMPTS: DIGITAL MEDIA

Digital Sky Painting, Mia Rozear

Digital Sky Paintings
Create digital paintings of different skies, consider time of day, range of colors, as well as shapes of clouds and light. See our lesson plan and project examples here. 

Digital Painting: Texture Cubes, Ruth Lee

Texture Cubes
Create digital paintings of several textures in the shape of a cube. Choose a broad range of surfaces: natural and manmade in a range of colors, textures. See our lesson plan and project examples here. 

Cinemagraph, Eloise Sherrid
Cinemagraph, Eloise Sherrid

Cinemagraphs
A cinemagraph is a still photo with an isolated pocket of looping video. Create a cinemagraph that captures an unusual movement. See our lesson plan and project examples here.

ART PROMPTS: ANIMATION

Pixilation Animation
Create an animated film using a live person using the Stop Motion Studio App. See our lesson plan and project examples here.

Social Qs Gif, Deepti Menon

Gif Animations
Create a 1-2 second looping animation to illustrate a New York Times Social Q’s article. See our lesson plan and project examples here. 

Animation Transformations
Create an animation of objects that look similar. See our lesson plan and project examples here. 

Charcoal Animation
Create an animated movie using the Stop Motion Studio app on a smart phone and altering a charcoal drawing for each frame. Watch our video tutorial and see project examples here. 

Veggie Animation, Vivian Kong

Carved Animation on a 3D Object
Create a short animation by drawing on a 3D object with paint markers. Watch our video tutorial and see project examples here. 

Stop Motion Animation with Clay
Create a short stop motion animation using found objects and/or small clay sculptures. Watch our video tutorial and see project examples here. 

ART PROMPTS: DRAWING

Drawing Gesture Drawings of Guinea Pigs

Gesture drawings: Pets
Instead of a nude model, draw a pet, a cat, dog, fish, guinea pig! Same principles of gesture drawing are present and you’ll log life drawing practice. Watch our video tutorial here.

Still Life Marker Drawing, Cat Huang

Still Life Marker Drawing
Set up a still life and draw with markers, layering colors over each other to create varying textures and colors. Watch our video tutorial and see project examples here. 

Song Kang, micron pen drawing with eggs

Pen drawing on a 3D object
Find any 3D object, a styrofoam cup, a lemon, a box and draw on it with a micron pen. Respond to the form of the object with your line drawing. Visit Song Kang’s Instagram for pen drawing inspiration.

Urban Sketching in Guangzhou, China

Neighborhood “Travel” Sketches
Look at your neighborhood with a fresh pair of eyes and do some urban sketching where you live. Markers, pens, colored pencils are easy transport for sketching on site. Watch our video tutorial on Taiwan for tips on urban sketching.

Brainstorming & Sketching

Rapid Fire Drawing
When Prof Lieu’s daughter was in 1st grade, she came home with these drawing charts. Draw responses for each word on one (or more) of our charts! Download the charts & see project examples here. 

Head Drawings in Pencil. Jordan McCracken-Foster

Drawing Marathon: Human Anatomy
Draw an assigned number of heads, arms, hands, legs, or feet in a set time frame. This project can be formatted differently depending on the time frame you want. For example, do 5-6 drawings, each for 10 min. every day for a week. See our lesson plan and project examples here.

Life Drawing, colored pencil sketch

Gesture Drawings: People IRL
Draw whoever is in your living space: family members, etc. Tip: people barely move when looking at their phones or playing video games

Self-Portrait Crayon Drawing, Clara Lieu

Self-Portrait with a Mirror
Draw a self-portrait in color from direct observation using a mirror, using any drawing media. Watch our video tutorial and see project examples here. 

Napkin Drawing, Suzy Hughes

Napkin Drawing
At your next meal, draw anything you want a napkin in any drawing media. See project examples here. 

ART PROMPTS: COLLAGE

Typography collage, Britt Sodersjerna

Typography Party
Choose 1 character on a keyboard, in any language.  Create a collage that includes that character, arranged however you like.  See project examples here.

New York Times Paper Trail Collage, Alexia Towle

New York Times Paper Trail Collage
Make a personal map of how you read the New York Times. Note what sections you read,  the order in which you read them, and sections you skip. See our lesson plan and project examples here.

Visual Journaling, Lauryn Welch

Visual Journaling
Fill journal pages with collected images from magazines, xeroxes, old books, stickers, stamps. Add markers and pen to enhance the images. Watch our video tutorial here. 

Self-Portrait Collage

Self-Portrait Collage
Using black, white, and grey paper, cut out flat shapes to create a self-portrait collage. Consider shape, negative space, and overlap.

Junk Mail Collage, Amy Hollshwandner

Junk Mail Collage
Create an artwork using only junk mail! Great chance to experiment with how to integrate text and images in your collage. See project examples here. 

Mixed Media Collage, Annabeth Tao

Obituary Portrait Collage
Create portrait of a person from the New York Times Obituary using mixed media collage. See our lesson plan & project examples here.

Painted Paper Collage, Lauryn Welch

Painted Paper Collage
Use hand painted paper collage to create a portrait of your room, a self-portrait, or any other topic! Our example uses acrylic paint, but any paint like watercolor, tempera, or even markers works great. See our lesson plan and project examples here.

Alphabet Collage

Alphabet Collage
Choose a letter of the alphabet and camouflage the letter in a collage made with flat colors. Shown here: “W.”

Mixed Media Collage, Olivia Lu

Fear Collage
Create a mixed media collage based on a fear you have. The fear can be a realistic, totally irrational, petty, imaginary, serious, anything! See our lesson plan & project examples here. 

Word Collage, Flamingo

Word Collage
Choose a word, and arrange and stylize the letters to visually represent the meaning of the word. Seen here: “flamingo.”

TEACHING & LEARNING ART ONLINE

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