A Keith Haring Art Lesson: Adaptable for Elementary Through High School

A Keith Haring Art Lesson: Adaptable for Elementary Through High School
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The 2014 Sochi Olympics are a great starting point for art lessons as they can easily be tied into art history. Keith Haring was a pop artist in the 1990’s who was known for his stylized drawings of the figure. His work has great appeal for the younger artists as his drawings are very simple and can easily be used as inspiration.

Educators can utilize a major principle of art, movement, to engage our students in the lesson. Keith Haring captured this in his art by adding thick black lines near his figures where he wanted them to appear as if they were in motion. Students will use this technique to create their own figures to create a drawing as if it were a snapshot of a moment in the middle of a Winter Olympic event.

Lesson Objectives:

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.SL.1 Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.SL.2 Integrate and evaluate information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.SL.6 Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and communicative tasks, demonstrating command of formal English when indicated or appropriate.

Materials Required:

  • Paper
  • Various coloring tools

Lesson Procedure:

Haring Inspired Art 2

1. Students will discuss the Olympic events in Sochi, Russia. Conversation will be led into the competition, and then students will brainstorm a list of the Winter Olympic Events.

2. After this list has been created it is time to delve into the art history and the work of Keith Haring.

Note: While Keith Haring does make very kid friendly images, his work does go into adult themes and concepts as he was inspired by sexuality and his fear and struggles with AIDS. It is recommended to google the images ahead of time as the artwork can be too mature for young eyes.

3. Students are then encouraged to pick one Olympic winter event and to do a Haring inspired drawing. Encourage simple figures, as many of Haring’s works had very little detail.

4. The teacher should instruct the students to draw a border to ‘frame’ their piece of work much in the way Haring did. Students should draw in pencil first, then outline with a black drawing tool.

5. Students can use various materials to color their pieces in. Encourage craftsmanship within the piece with neat coloring going within a similar grain. If this project is used with older students heightened importance should be placed on craftsmanship.


The teacher can keep the assessment very informal by asking the students during the process of creating the art piece.

  • Where are you considering adding the black bold lines?
  • What are those lines representing?
  • Are you going to limit your color palette?

Art history and current events work well together in this art lesson. Students get to learn about an artist, explore the Olympic events, and create their own piece inspired by both. Using Haring’s work as inspiration enables a greater population of students to be successful in this piece as his work utilizes simple design.