We all would love our students to be familiar with a collection of important works of art (and we kinda would like to improve our own familiarity with famous works of art too!) Familiarity with famous art is part of why we want to include art in education to begin with. But who has the time or inclination to just sit down and memorize famous paintings like math facts?

I Give You “Line Drawings!”

Line Drawings of American Gothic

What are line drawings? They are simplified black and white outlines of a subject. A line drawing of a famous work of art is a simplified black and white drawing of that art work, without extensive shading or texture. (You can find a selection of Famous Art Line Drawings in our store.) I love to use line drawings in art lessons because of the numerous benefits!

Line Drawings Help Students:

  • Grow familiar with specific great works of art and specific artists
  • Begin to recognize the art of different time periods
  • Deepen their understanding of history and culture
  • Increase their ability to recognize beauty through constant exposure to great works of art
  • Begin to notice the Elements of Art and Principles of Design in actual works of art
  • Catch all those funny cultural references to famous works of art

Art Curriculum for Kids


How can you incorporate a line drawing into your school day?

1. Use a line drawing to shorten the amount of time needed for an art lesson or allow students to focus on just one art skill.

Starting with a line drawing allows a student to save the time needed to draw. For example, if you’re focusing on the skill of painting, then you may not want your students to spend all their time (or their limited focus and concentration) on drawing. Students can trace the line drawing on to watercolor paper or a canvas (using one of the methods of tracing) and then concentrate on mixing colors and painting techniques. This speeds up an art lesson while still retaining the benefits of working with a famous work of art.

2. Use a line drawing to reduce the degree of skill needed for an art lesson.

Whether you’re drawing or tracing, it’s easier to work from a line drawing than a painting because so many of the lines have already been simplified. If you want your students to reproduce a famous work of art (a great activity for improving their art skills!) then showing them both the painting and a line drawing of the painting with make the reproduction process easier (even if they aren’t tracing at all).

If you’re working with young students, have them start by tracing a famous work of art as the whole art project. Your youngest students could simply use it as a basic coloring sheet. It still grows their familiarity with the work of art without needing any specific lesson plan.

3. Use a line drawing to create a concrete, kinesthetic activity for a bigger project.

Line drawings can be used within a large assignment, like a unit study, a STEAM project, or a lap book. (STEAM stands for “Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math.” A STEAM project combines something from each of those elements.)Having the students color them makes the project far more interactive than just using a photo of the actual famous work of art.

4. Use a line drawing all by itself.

Line drawings can also be used independently. They represent a work of art, which is a little piece of history all its own. Have your student trace them while you talk about the artist or watch a YouTube video about the artist.

5. Relax and color a line drawing while you connect with a famous work of art, created by an important artist.

Coloring is more than free therapy: The benefits of this artful activity include improving fine motor skills (which improves handwriting among other things), stimulating creativity, increasing color awareness, growing patience, recognizing patterns, and reducing stress and anxiety. (Am I the only homeschooler with stress and anxiety?) Coloring is also a great way to experiment with a new media and, of course, it’s great quality time with your children. Coloring is more than cheap therapy, it’s a valuable life habit.

You can color with markers, pencils, chalk pastels, or even crayons! (Here’s 5 Tips for Beautiful Coloring with Crayons).


So check out our selection of Line Drawings of Famous work of art in our store:

Famous Art Line Drawings

Then comment below telling us what works of art you’d like to see added to the collection!

*Wondering about copyright? At Ridge Light Ranch we are very careful about copyright because we value artists and we want you to be confident when you distribute items to your students. Most pieces of art featured here are now past copyright and in the public domain. In addition, line drawings of existing pieces of art are so unlike the original that creating and selling them is not considered infringement. Want more information? See this post: Copyright and the Art Teacher.

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