Great Artists

Introducing Kids to Great Artists: Piet Mondrian

Composition with Red, Yellow, and Blue by Piet Mondrian (1921)
Composition with Red, Yellow, and Blue by Piet Mondrian (1921)

We almost didn’t include Mondrian in this series because it is so difficult to know what to say to introduce a young child to this complex thinker. His art is difficult to place and his theories are extremely esoteric. In order to help children place the art of Mondrian in some kind of context, we found it helpful to compare the works of Mondrian to those of Jackson Pollock in a conversation about abstract art in general. It’s a good idea to have this discussion while looking at a couple examples of Mondrian and Pollock’s work side by side (either online or from books). We didn’t find very many children’s books that dealt with Mondrian, but the book Mondrian:  Structures in Space has beautiful, large depictions of his works. This book is expensive, so it’s a good idea to look for it at the library, or just search for Mondrian paintings on the internet. Depending on the age of the child, here are a few questions that might be good to explore:

How is Mondrian’s art different from that of Pollock?

How is it the same?

What makes both of them abstract?

What do you think Pollock was trying to express?

Is Mondrian thinking about the same things in his art?

The goal of this discussion is to get across the point that abstract art has a wide range of styles and can look very different. While Pollock used non-representational (or abstract) painting to express emotion and movement, Mondrian did almost the opposite in trying to portray pure line and color without the messy interference of movement. This discussion will, hopefully, help open up your child’s view of what art is and remind them of the wide range of styles used by different artists. After having this discussion, you may want to take the opportunity to let your child experiment with using line and color in a painting. Below are a couple of ideas to get you started.

Method 1:  Paper and Acrylics

Method 1:  Paper and Acrylic paintProject:  Exploring Line and Color

Method 1 – Paper and acrylic paint


1 large piece white card stock or stiff white paper

1 piece black construction paper or black card stock



Acrylic paints in primary colors

Medium sized brushes

1. Cut 1-inch wide strips of black paper that are about the same length as the white paper. You want these strips to be fairly straight, so it might be a good idea to have an adult do this step for younger children. Let the child place the black strips on the white paper piece of paper as they desire and then help them glue them in place, trying to keep the black strips as straight as possible.

2. Give the child 3 medium paint brushes and a small amount of red, blue and yellow paint. Let them paint the white squares between the black strips of paper in the colors they desire, reminding them that it is okay to leave some squares white.

Method 2:  Sharpie and Watercolor Pencils

Method 2:  Sharpie and Watercolor PencilsMethod 2 – Sharpie marker and watercolor pencils

1 piece of white watercolor paper or card stock


1 medium point black sharpie

a selection of watercolor pencils

Paintbrushes of various sizes


1. Before your child is ready to paint, use a ruler and a sharpie to draw a grid of thick black lines of the white paper. You might want to look at a Mondrian painting for inspiration as you decide how to place the lines.

2. Give your child the piece of white paper with the lines drawn on it and a selection of several colors of watercolor pencils. Let them color in the white squares with the colors they desire, reminding them that it’s okay to leave some of the squares white.

3. Once they are done coloring in the squares, give your child the brushes and water and let them paint over the watercolor pencil to create a soft wash or color in each square. Allow a few hours to dry.


Printable Artist Fact Card
Print this fact card out and add to your collection of great artists and their work. Fold in half and laminate or cut and paste onto a 3×5 card.


Piet Mondrian – Artist Flash Card