Art @ Home: Cassatt Inspirations

This art project is inspired by works of art in the exhibition, Inside Out: The Prints of Mary Cassatt. All of our Art @ Home projects are designed for artists of all ages to create in their living spaces, using inexpensive and recycled materials.

Mary Cassatt (1844–1926) was an American painter and printmaker who lived much of her adult life in France. She was part of a group of artists called the Impressionists, who were interested in trying to capture movement and everyday life in their art. 

Mr. Gardner Cassatt Reading the Paper, c. 1883. Etching and drypoint on paper. Only known state. 10 ⅞ x 6 ⅞ in. (27.6 x 17.5 cm). The Lunder collection, 2012.307.

The Stocking, 1890. Drypoint on paper. Fifth state (of six). 10 3/16 x 7 ⅜ in. (25.9 x 18.7 cm). The Lunder Collection, 2013.037.

The Banjo Lesson, c. 1891-93. Drypoint on paper. Second state (of four). 15 ⅜ x 10 ⅛ in. (39.1 x 25.7 cm). The Lunder Collection, 2012.326.

Let’s take a closer look at a few of her works of art:

  • Grab some paper and a pencil, and make a list of 10 things that you notice.
  • What are the differences you see between these works of art?
  • Are there any similarities?
  • Do you see anything that reminds you of your own life?
  • What do you think these details tell you about the artist and the people and places who were part of her life?

As a woman artist living during the 1800s, Mary Cassatt created many works of art that showed inside spaces—having tea with friends, taking care of pets, reading, and spending time with young children who were part of her extended family. 

What sort of activities are part of your everyday life? 

Inspired by Mary Cassatt, spend some time drawing some of your favorite things to do inside. You can have a great time just drawing with paper and pencil—if you have other drawing tools available like crayons or oil pastels, you can use those too.

Another easy way to capture all of your favorite indoor activities is to create a mini-book, and fill it with your drawings. To create a mini-book, you will need:

  • 4 index cards, 3 inches by 5 inches. If you don’t have those, you can cut old manila file folders to that size, or use cardstock
  • Scissors
  • Rubber band – a thicker one works best, like the ones pictured
  • Large paper clip, 2-inches

Fold your index cards together to create a book, making sure that the front and back cover of the book is the blank side of the index cards. Use your scissors to create a small square notch by the fold, one at the bottom and one at the top. Put your rubberband in one end of the paper clip and wrap it around the back of the book, using the notches, and hook it to the other end of the paper clip—holding everything in place. And, that’s it.

Now, you can use pencils or colored pencils to draw pictures of some of your favorite things to do inside. You can check out pictures of some of my favorite “inside” things—my comfy couch and favorite indoor plant. What will you choose?