Romare Bearden Inspired Recycled Cityscape Level: 4-5


Romare Bearden Inspired Recycled Cityscape

Art Lesson Plan by Kelley Igo



Romare Bearden was an African-American artist. Bearden created many different types of art during his time, including traditional, abstract, and collages. But one thing remained the same; his work always depicted impactful experiences in his life. He first created scenes of the American South, later depicted the lack of humanity seen during World War II, and eventually focused on the Civil Rights Movement. Bearden’s work The Block was a tribute to his time in Harlem. This collage showcases Bearden’s love for one of the many places that he called home throughout his life and is an excellent piece for young artists to take inspiration from. In a Bearden-inspired piece, they will be able to show off their own neighborhoods.

Me and Uncle Romie by Claire Hartfield tells the story of a young boy visiting Harlem for his first time. He initially doesn’t think he and his uncle have much in common or that his uncle is very interesting, but eventually learns to appreciate his uncle’s love for art and collages and realizes they share more interests than he thought.  The uncle is based on Bearden himself and the illustrations in the book are reminiscent of The Block and other works of Bearden. This book will surely help your students prepare for this fun art lesson plan! And as an added bonus, this lesson plan ties in the joy of recycling which you can share with your class.



Students looked at various examples of cityscapes, specifically the collage work of Romare Bearden. Students will create their own mixed media cityscapes by layering various types of cardboard, painting it black and adding oil pastel for color and texture.



Anchor Standard #1
-Generate and conceptualize artistic ideas and work.

Anchor Standard #2
-Organize and develop artistic ideas and work.

Anchor Standard #3
-Refine and Complete artistic work.

Anchor Standard #5
-Develop and refine artistic techniques and work for presentation.



Students will view the The Block by artist Romare Bearden and the teacher will read the book “Me and Uncle Romie” by Claire Hartfield to gain some information about this fabulous artist. Students will be given recycled cardboard to create a cityscape, buildings, their own house, their own neighborhood, etc. They will glue their creation and let dry. Students will paint the entire creation with black paint and let dry. Students will color their creation with oil pastels.


Step 1:
Students will be given recycled cardboard to create their city, neighborhood, or building. They will cut out their pieces using scissors and glue them together.

Recycled Cityscape Art Lesson Plan


Step 2:
Students will paint their creation with black paint. We recommend covering the tables in recycled newspaper or another type of covering so your students can paint the full piece of cardboard without making a mess.

Recycled Cityscape Art Lesson Plan


Step 3:
Students will color their cityscapes with oil pastels.

Recycled Cityscape Art Lesson Plan


Step 4:
Display final products.

Recycled Cityscape Art Lesson Plan



To make this art lesson plan a Display My Art fundraiser, you can attach the finished project or a picture of it to a piece of Display My Art drawing paper.



While your students are working on their pieces, teach them these fun facts about Romare Bearden!

  1. Bearden played semi-professional baseball while he was in college.
  2. Bearden has authored and coauthored a variety of books about art, specifically about the history of African American artists.
  3. Bearden was also a songwriter and poet, and wrote the 1950s hit “Seabreeze.”
  4. Bearden created political cartoons to earn money when he was younger.
  5. In addition to being an artist, Bearden also worked as a caseworker–meaning he gave legal help to those who couldn’t afford it.
*Don’t forget to put student name and year on the drawing, at least one inch away from the outside border.*

To use this lesson as an art fundraiser, go to

Required Materials

  • 01Display My Art drawing paper
  • 02Recycled cardboard
  • 03Scissors
  • 04Glue
  • 05Black acrylic paint
  • 06Oil pastels
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