Jacob Lawrence Cityscape
For Ages 2 – 7

Today we are celebrating the birthday of the famous artist, Jacobs Lawrence. Lawrence was born on September 7, 1917 and is one of the best known African-American painters of the 20th century. Throughout his life, he found ways to help teach others in his community, and also to capture daily life in New York and Harlem.

Lawrence spoke of his style as “dynamic cubism,” although his color palette came from his experience living in Harlem during the 1930’s. One of his most famous series, The Migration Series, sought to shine a light on the lived experience of African Americans at the time. Lawrence used big blocks of bright colors, not adding much shading or other details. He would mix all the colors he would need for a painting at one time, and then paint using one color at a time. This ensured that, for example, all the greens in a painting would be the exact same shade of green.  When we create a cityscape out of construction paper, we are mimicking this technique.

He also loved to paint cities in a way that had been previously used to capture wild, outdoor places. The term “cityscape” comes from the term landscape, which is a painting that captures a beautiful outdoor scene. In creating our cityscape today, we can remember Lawrence and appreciate the beauty in the different areas that surround us.


  • Construction Paper in bright colors
  • Paint or Markers
  • Glue
  • Scissors (optional)


  1. Select one full-sized piece of construction paper to be your background. This will be the piece (and color!) you will glue all the other pieces onto.
  2. Think about the different cities that you have visited as well as where you live. What do the buildings look like? Are there lots of cars? Consider how tall things are compared to each other.

Here is a picture of Salt Lake City that might help:

  1. Cut or tear pieces of construction paper to make the buildings. We will try and make each building with a single piece of construction paper
  2. Cut or tear the other elements that might make up your cityscape, like cars, people or trees. Use a wide variety of construction paper colors
  3. Paint windows, doors, signs etc. into your cityscape

More Fun:

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