Artist Study: Niki de Saint Phalle

In Art Studio we started an artist study of Niki de Saint Phalle.

You may know her work if you’ve ever walked through balboa park or visited her sculpture garden called ‘Queen Califia’s Magical Circle’ in San Diego

For this lesson, our students made mosaics snakes using colored clay and small tile!Book:

Niki de Saint Phalle and the Tarot Garden (BENTELI)Materials:

Air Dry Clay

Small tile


Student instructions:


I like to start lessons by warming up with a drawing.

After showing our students some of Niki de Saint Phalle’s illustrations that she later turned into large sculptures. The children sketched various snake figures such as S shapes and coils.



Rolling clay into snake shapes is a good place to start,

especially for children who are beginning to work with clay and play dough for the first time.

( Clay as you may know, is one of the most useful tools to develop young children’s fine motor skills and strengthen hand muscles. )


After rolling clay into snakes our students added small tiles and colored stones to create a mosaic effect, just like the magnificent work of Niki herself.


Key Art Concepts: sculpture, mosaic & texture

After learning about Niki de Saint Phalle’s work, some of my students have gone with their families to visit some of her work in person. Below I’ve included information about these locations if you’d like to visit as well!


A guide to view the work of Niki de Saint Phalle in San Diego:

Balboa Park

Waterfront in Downtown San Diego

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