April 27, 2020

Michelangelo-Inspired Drop-In Activity

Sistine Chapel

By Kris Hurst



Michelangelo was an Italian artist born in 1475. That’s 545 years ago, and we are still talking about him and looking at his work. Let’s call him Mike for the sake of conversation. Mike considered himself a sculptor and is famous for the 17-foot marble statue David. This is three times the height of an average man and is admired for Mike’s attention to detail and ability to convey life through stone. This sculpture caught the attention of the Pope, who commissioned him to paint the ceiling of his house—the Sistine Chapel—even though Mike wasn’t regarded as a painter.

David by Michelangelo

David by Michelangelo

The Sistine Chapel is no ordinary residence, and the ceiling Mike painted is over 5,000 square feet, around the size of a school gym. There were so many challenges with painting such a large space. First, Mike wanted to include 300 characters. This had to be planned out in extreme detail. Second, the height of the ceiling at 70 feet presented a major obstacle. In order to reach the ceiling, he had to build platforms to climb. Third, getting the paint to stick to the ceiling was tough. He had to add colors to a wet mixture in order to make the colors adhere to the surface. Lastly, he had to paint above his head. This is very tiring!! And it took Mike five years to paint it.

Michelangelo-inspired drop-in activity

The Sistine Chapel

But don’t you want to be like Mike? Take a crack at this Michelangelo-inspired drop-in activity to see what it was like for him to paint this masterpiece.


  • White paper
  • Coloring materials such as colored pencils, crayons, markers, or watercolors
  • Tape


Michelangelo-inspired drop-in activity1. Draw a diagram of the ceilings in your house on a sheet of paper. You can do as many levels as you like; the example to the left shows one level.

2. Next, plan out what you want on each portion of the ceiling. Maybe you have a sister and you need to ask her what she would like on her ceiling. (The Sistine Chapel originally had a blue ceiling with golden stars.)

3. Find a space to tape up your paper. This could be under a table or up on the fridge, someplace you have to stretch to reach.

4. Then loosely sketch your design ideas in pencil.

5. Finally, choose a medium to color things in; perhaps you want to use watercolors, markers, colored pencils, or even crayons. Then get to work filling in your ceiling panels.

Is this easier or harder than working at a table or easel? Does your arm get tired easily? What other differences do you notice when you are working above your head?

Check out this video to learn more about Michelangelo and the Sistine Chapel:

We’re so happy that you’ve joined us for our Michelangelo-inspired drop-in activity today! Join us next Monday at 9am for our newest virtual drop-in activity!