“I paint my own reality.” ~Frida Kahlo

Kahlo’s Early Life

Frida Kahlo (pronunciation) was born on July 6, 1907, in Coyoacán, Mexico (pronunciation). Her father, Guillermo Kahlo, was a photographer and her mother, Matilde Calderón y González (pronunciation), was a homemaker. Frida had three sisters: Cristina, Margarita, and Matilde.

Frieda and Diego Rivera

Frida’s early years were filled with difficulty and sadness. When she was six years old, she contracted polio which left her right leg shorter than her left and caused her to walk with a limp for the rest of her life. Her illness forced her to start school later than other children her age, and when she was finally able to go to school, she was bullied because of her leg.

Me and My Parrot

When she was eighteen, she suffered a near-fatal bus accident that left Frida with severe spinal damage. Over the next decade, Kahlo endured over thirty surgeries to treat her injuries and later contracted gangrene in one leg which nearly required amputation. 

My Dress Hangs There

Frida’s Career as a Painter Begins

She learned to paint while she was recuperating from her injuries, and her early work was strongly influenced by Mexican folk art. And despite her health problems, Frida became an incredibly prolific artist. Her artwork often explored themes related to her own life experiences, such as her relationships, her Mexican heritage, and her health problems.


Kahlo’s paintings often featured self-portraits and dealt with themes of pain, suffering, and death. She once said, “I paint myself because I am so often alone and because I am the subject I know best.”

In 1929, Frida married Diego Rivera, a famous and wealthy Mexican muralist. Their marriage was an unhappy one, and they divorced ten years later. However, they remarried the following year and remained so until her death in 1954.

The Bus

Frida Kahlo’s Death

Kahlo’s work has been described as “surrealist,” but she herself rejected that label. She once said, “They thought I was a Surrealist, but I wasn’t. I never painted dreams. I painted my own reality.”

Frida Kahlo’s work fell out of favor after her death, but she was rediscovered by the art world in the 70s and celebrated by feminist scholars and artists for her honest portrayal of female experience and form. She is now considered one of the most famous female artists of all time.

The Two Fridas

Frida is known for her expressive and emotionally charged paintings, which often incorporate elements of Mexican culture and folklore, as well as her affinity for wearing traditional Mexican peasant clothing, elaborate floral headdresses, and an abundance of jewelry.

Viva la Vida, Watermelons

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For more project ideas, check out these Frida Kahlo-inspired art projects here:

Craft: Frida Inspired Flower Headband by See Vanessa Craft

Frida Kahlo Inspired Self-Portrait For Kids by Woo Jr

Frida Kahlo Art: Paper Shadow Boxes DIY by Crafty Chica

Frida in a Can by Made Everyday