Phillips at Home: Home for the Holidays

Hello from Donna Jonte, your Phillips at Home host. Thanks for spending time with me and works of art from The Phillips Collection, slowing down to look, think, wonder, and respond creatively. Let’s go home for the holidays with artist Charles Demuth!

Materials: coloring supplies (markers, color pencils, crayons), scissors, glue, printer

Charles Demuth, Red Chimneys, 1918, Watercolor and graphite pencil on medium-weight, medium-textured, off-white, wove paper, 10 1/8 x 14 in., The Phillips Collection, Acquired 1925


Look carefully at this work of art by Charles Demuth. What do you notice? Do you see straight lines? Curved lines? What shapes do you see? What colors do you see? Why might Demuth have focused on the roofs of the houses?

Use a pencil or crayon (and your imagination) to extend this picture using the template and draw a house that you want to live in.  What will your house look like? Will your house look like something in your dreams? Will you use straight or wavy lines? What shapes might your doors and windows be? What might you add to the roof, the house, and the yard?

When you have finished drawing your house, add yourself to the picture. Where will you be?


Lancaster, Pennsylvania, 1899, photograph by Ferdinand Demuth

Charles Demuth (American, 1883-1935) was born in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. When he was not traveling to New York City; Provincetown, Massachusetts; or Paris, he lived in his family home, which is now The Demuth Museum. Young Charles was inspired by the view from his windows. He liked the geometric shapes in the city’s skyline, especially the church steeples. So did his father, Ferdinand Demuth, an amateur photographer. Here is one of his father’s photos showing Lancaster’s architecture in 1899.

Duncan Phillips included Demuth’s work in his 1926 Exhibition of Paintings by Nine American Artists, which was an effort to make Washington aware of progressive trends in American art. The exhibition intrigued local critics. It included many American artists never before shown in the city who painted in a cubist-influenced style “based on systematized, arbitrary arrangement” of forms. In his catalogue essay, Phillips praised Demuth’s “austerity of ruled line combined with an enchanting quality of color,” and in his collection catalogue of the same year commented on Demuth’s “genius for design and consummate taste and tact.”


Charles Demuth’s painting inspired us to sketch a 2-dimensional (flat) house. Now let’s create a 3-dimensional (sculptural) paper house using a template from the Design Museum, the National Building Museum, of the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Look at your house template. Imagine how your house will look when it is put together. Which part will be the front of the house and which will be the back? How will the tabs help hold the house together?

We will decorate the house before we cut and fold the template into a 3-dimensional form. Keeping the template flat, decorate your house. Use your colored pencils and crayons to add color and details.

Construct your house following the instructions. Then add embellishments like pom-poms, stickers, and tape. What else might you add to your house? Explore your own home for more decorations that will make your house look festive!

Use a variety of the templates to make a whole village!

Happy holidays from The Phillips Collection!

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