Chinese Dragon Paintings

By John Bomhoff
Art Studio Manager, Children’s Museum of Phoenix

Learn an easy way to paint a dragon as you Celebrate the Chinese New Year this week at the Children’s Museum of Phoenix.

Ages: 5 and up.

Materials: 6″ X 9″ (or larger) piece of white construction paper, watercolor paints, medium-sized brushes, container for water, markers and pictures of dragons.


Show your child(ren) the dragon pictures and discuss how these make-believe beasts look.  Review the information which follows on the Chinese New Year.

Take a brush, wet it, dip it in the paint, and pressing down on the paper, make a long, thick, curving line.  Lift up on the brush at the end so the line ends in a point.  The point will be the tail of the dragon; the blunt end will be the head.

Paint in a background – clouds, mountains, etc.

Let the painting dry.

Using markers add a mouth, eyes, horns, etc. on the head.  Add other details – feet, scales, wings, etc.

Give your dragon a name!


We are celebrating the Chinese New Year, the year of the Dragon!  A wonderful way to begin this project is to read the delightful book, The Seven Chinese Sisters, by Kathy Tucker and Grace Lin.  Discuss how it appears the Chinese borrowed parts from other animals to create these make-believe beasts.  Can you identify the different body parts (horns, wings, claws, fangs, etc.)?

Although they look scary, dragons were a symbol of good luck in ancient China.  They were thought to live in the clouds over mountains or in the mist over the sea.  According to Chinese tradition, people born in the year of the dragon are given the gifts of health, energy, courage and sensitivity.  They also can acquire wealth and live to be very old.


The mission of the Children’s Museum of Phoenix is to engage the minds, muscles and imaginations of children and the grown-ups who care about them. With hands-on, interactive exhibits designed for children ages birth to 10, the Museum focuses on learning through play, with emphasis on early childhood education and school-readiness.

The Children’s Museum of Phoenix is located at 215 N. 7th St. in downtown Phoenix, at the southeast corner of Seventh Street and Van Buren in the historic Monroe School Building.


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