Exploring Artistic Influences



Students explore their own personal artistic influences and make a work that is inspired by this connection.


Students will discuss how they think creativity works.

Students will explore the influences of artists.

Students will examine what has influenced their art.

Students will create a piece of art that reflects their artistic influences.


Pre-Colombian art
Peruvian art
Keith Haring's use of line
African masks
Picasso's Les Demoiselles d'Avignon




The students can use medium of their choice-
Oil pastels
Markers, etc. will be provided for them.


Throughout history, artists are influenced by their experiences and by art of other cultures. The art historical references demonstrate some of these influences so that we can get a better understanding of what encourage creativity in a few artists.

Begin the discussion by asking the students what is creativity? Can anyone identify what this art might be? What connections can you make between these works? How do you this piece influences this artist?


Start with Haring's sculptures and ask them to explain how Incan sculpture influenced his art. Gradually direct the students' attention of the flat forms in both exemplars. Then examine the flattened, geometric plains of African sculpture influenced Picasso's cubism. Ask them to make connections between the to works. How did the African Mask influence Cubism for Picasso? Have the students create a work that is influence by another artist, culture or event. Allow the students to choose the medium that best suits this influence.


Have the students examine their own artistic influences. Does a particular style, an artist, or event influence them? Does this influence the subject matter, colors or what materials they will use to create art? Were they always aware of this influence?


When the project is complete, have a discussion in which the students examine each other's work to find what has influenced creativity for the artist. The student, whose work is being examined, can also explain why he or she was influenced artistically.


The ability to make connections is an important part of effective learning. By understanding what has influenced various artists, students will understand that art and art making is a reflection of the artist's experiences. Also by exploring what influences them, students will be also examining and reviewing art history as well as their own personal experiences.

The lesson can be presented in many ways. The students might be given an assignment to research the influences of particular artist. They can be broken up into teams and together find out information that can be presented in class. In this way, students gain experience at doing art research, and the influences of more artists can be discussed.


As you present other lessons on different artists or styles, encourage the student to make connections with what the influences might be.


The author of this lesson, Deidre Kenna, a Masters in Art Education student of the School of Visual Arts in NYC, is the 2003-2004 scholarship recipient of the Keith Haring Scholarship award. This project is a collaboration with The School of Visual Arts & a local NYC public high school.

To find out more about The Keith Haring Foundation Scholarship offered through the School of Visual Arts, please contact: Director, School of Visual Arts/Visual Arts Foundation, 15 Gramercy Park South, NYC 10003 or SVA's web site.