Art: Studying the Masters

Pieter Bruegel’s painting The Land of Cockaigne depicts a legendary place, where food and drink could be found in abundance.

As we read about an artist, I like to have the children work on a project which helps them gain some insight into his work. Often they do a work of art using the style or technique of the artist we are studying, such as a watercolor painting or a plaster of paris fresco.  Sometimes, though, I like them to do a work of art based on the subject of a chosen painting.  We did this recently with Pieter Bruegel’s painting The Land of Cockaigne.

First we read the beautiful book The Fantastic Journey of Pieter Bruegel.

This book is written like a diary account, imagining what may have happened on Bruegel’s real-life two year journey through France and Italy during the 16th century.

We gathered a little more information about this particular painting in the book What Makes a Bruegel a Bruegel? before the boys began their own drawing of “The Land of Cockaigne”.

They enjoyed imagining what foods they would place in their own legendary worlds, where cotton candy clouds rained M & Ms and slices of pizza grew up out of the ground. When they were done drawing, they labeled their work “The Land of Cockaigne”.  This fun activity is a simple way to help children remember an artist and one of their famous works of art.


  1. The beauty of studying art is that there are SO many ways to branch out topically, and study further on the artist, his topic, the time he lived in, his style, etc. I love your idea of reading the book and then having them do a project of their own. Great job, everyone!


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