Chinese New Year Art

Learn about the Chinese New Year with this colorful and inspiring art project!

Students enjoy reading a fun chapter book surrounding the Chinese New Year, and create an exciting watercolor painting of the culture’s legendary symbol.

Faber-Castell Connector Paint Box
Brushes – round and flat
Black pen
Faber-Castell 9×12 Watercolor Paper
Table salt

Grade Level: 2nd – 4th grade
Time Required: 2 45-min. class periods



National Core Arts Standards
Creating: #1, 2, 3
Presenting/Producing: #5, 6
Responding: #8, 9
Connecting: #11
by Ron Roy, illustrated by John Steven Gurney
This popular chapter book series presents an exciting story of three young amateur detectives solving their latest puzzling mystery taking place in San Francisco’s China Town.

This lesson plan is an art project that focuses on the Chinese New Year and the Chinese culture’s legendary symbol of power, strength and good luck with the fierce and mighty dragon! Combining drawing, the concept of warm and cool colors, pattern design and paint effects, this lesson plan shows students how to create a fun and powerful piece of art.

1. Begin with a 9×12 piece of watercolor paper. Demonstrate in pencil, how to start their drawing with a large, loose, squiggle and a basic head position. Encourage students to try different kinds of squiggles, with heads high or low, on the right or left.
2. Next, with the squiggle as the guide, show how to fill in the body. Draw basic head and horns, legs and flaming tail.

chinese new year art lesson
3. Continue by adding details: eye, teeth, tongue, scales and claws.
4. Using watercolor paint in warm colors, demonstrate how to paint the dragon with a round brush, letting colors bleed together in areas. Add a pinch of salt to wet paint, and leave a bit of white paper showing through in spots for added dimension.

Finally, paint background and outline the dragon.
chinese new year art lesson
Show students how to use a medium size flat brush, and beginning in a corner, lightly paint over paper with water. Add a dramatic, inky blue (cool) color, and watch the paint spread on it’s own. You can push it around with your brush a bit, too, creating lighter and darker areas. Add a splash of purple here and there. Use a smaller round brush in between outer scales. While paint is still wet, add pinches of table salt in areas to achieve an exciting, starry effect. Be careful not to overdo it, this effect shows itself off best next to areas that are left plain.
Black outline:
When painting is dry, have students outline their dragon in black pen, and add additional texture and interest by drawing any type of pattern representing scales on the body.

Download:  Faber-Castell Chinese New Year Art Project

When you are done, we’d love to see your artwork. Please go to our Facebook page and upload your finished masterpiece to our Artwork Gallery! Tag it with #CreativeMe on Instagram or Twitter too! We can’t wait to see it!


How do you celebrate the Chinese New Year? Which colors did you use with your dragon? Post a comment and tell us about your experience!

Chinese New Year Art Lesson

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