Grade Level

5-6, 7-8, 9-10


5 periods, 50 minutes each


Oil pastel, acrylic paint, blender (this teacher used odorless, non-toxic turpentine to blend colors, but other options include linseed, oil, and baby oil with a q-tip or even just used water-soluble pastels like the Crayola Portfolio Series Oil Pastels), paper (this teacher used 80lb 13″x20″ paper that he had on hand but says 140 lb would be preferable)


Mixed media

Lesson Objectives

For students to:
• Be able to identify and discuss the style of Basquiat’s art.
• Use color, line, and motifs in a manner reminiscent of Basquiat’s art.
• Create art as an expression of feeling.

Introductory Activity

Read Radiant Child Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat to your class, and look at Jean-Michel Basquiat’s artwork with students. This teacher had students listen to the album Bird & Diz as the students worked. Bird & Diz was an album Basquiat listened to. Basquiat created the triptych Horn Players as a homage to two of the great jazz players: Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie.

Lesson Process

The lesson started with black acrylic to block out shapes of heads and bodies etc, and then we applied oil pastel.

Students had to show evidence of bold lines and application of bright colors similar to Jean-Michel, as well as familiar motifs to Basquiat, i.e., bones, crowns, cars, etc.

Students then blend the oil pastels. Oils can be blended with baby oil and linseed oil.


symbolism, motif, color, line, movement


Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat
A Guide To Basquiat’s Symbols and Meanings
Khan Academy on Basquiat

Author & Website/Blog

Patrick Flynn

Supporting Images