Archive | March, 2013

Symbolism – Mexican Huichol bead/yarn paintings

19 Mar
Tunuri and the Blue Deer

Tunuri and the Blue Deer

On a recent trip to Mexico we encountered the bead and yarn paintings of the Huichol. They live in the mountains of Mexico and have kept their traditional way of life for many generations. They still live the same way their great great grandparents did.

{read book: The Journey of Tunuri and the Blue Deer: A Huichol Indian Story. Also discuss info on the “history” pages at the end}

show: photos of beaded art & yarn paintings
– briefly discuss methods, notice multi-colored patterns in the forms

The Journey of Tunuri and the Blue Deer is a traditional Huichol story about a young child finding his path in life by connecting with the powers of nature – which are very important to the Huichol. The story tells of the experiences of young Tunuri, who becomes lost in the woods. He meets the magical Blue Deer who introduces Tunuri to who? Father Sun, Mother Earth, Brother Wind, Sister Water and Grandfather Fire while leading him back to his human family.

This story tells us about how the Huichol people relate to nature. How do we relate to nature?
Another thing we find in this story are *many* symbols. What is a symbol?

Huichol artist placing beads individually

Huichol artist placing beads individually

yarn painting

yarn painting

symbol: an image that represents something else – an idea or physical thing.

where do we encounter symbols?
– maps
– street signs (STOP, Hospital)
– uniforms – police, sports, super heroes

– stop sign (red octagon)
– tent drawing on a map means camping
– heart shape is symbol of love

What symbols did we see in Tunuri’s story? What do they mean?
– blue deer – messenger
– sun/rays – Father Sun who gives life and light
– lake – Sister Water
– cloud – Brother Wind
– garden/flowers – Mother Earth
– fire – Grandfather Fire who created everything, symbol of heat and strength

Each page is full of symbols – if there were no words would we be able to tell the basic story by looking at the symbols?

We are going to make “bead” paintings but instead of beads we are going to use stamps.  The Huichol artists individually place every bead in their creation so we are going to individually stamp each of our “beads” onto our paper.

Think of a symbol or scene you like from the book or from the images we looked at. Using the colors you have, create your own “bead” painting of a symbol.
**FILL THE WHOLE SQUARE WITH COLOR** Try not to leave any white
Place your “beads” carefully next to each other and not overlap
If you play Minecraft think of your drawing like you’re crafting it from blocks

one set per two students

one set per two students

 – pencils (preferably new and unsharpened)
– multi-colored ink stamp pads
– white paper

materials for the class

materials for the class

Write your name in pencil on the back

Using the eraser end of the pencil, *gently* tamp it into the colored ink (ONLY one color per pencil!!) and stamp it onto the paper to make your designs.

You can get 2-3 stamps on paper for each tamp on the ink pad

Start by making the main part of your image then fill in all the white with the time you have left.

if done early:
use scrap paper to make bookmarks using the same method but do any design you choose. If everyone finishes with time to spare we can share a few of our symbol “bead” paintings.IMG_6518 IMG_6524 IMG_6597


Saturated Colors – difference between light and bright colors

16 Mar

The art docent lesson today focused on further exploration of the creative possibilities of line, and we also talked about saturated or bright colors. We watched this video:

And then we did the same thing– using a piece of vellum with dots for eyes to find faces in the shapes that the children had drawn (the pictures attached are in-progress shots where you can see the dotted vellum).


After that, we looked at the color wheel and talked about the saturated tones of the rainbow that make up the basic color wheel, including some discussion about primary, secondary and tertiary colors, warm and cool tones, and the difference between “light” colors and “bright” colors.


Then the kids began to apply bright colors to their drawings.


Room 3, Kinder, Ms. Lepse
Docent: Heather Allen and Gala Bent
Art Elements/Principles/Artists Reviewed: line and color

Chinese Brush Painting: Bamboo

10 Mar


The study of specialized brush stroke techniques.

The students learned a few traditional Chinese brush strokes. They first practiced how to hold the bamboo brush, then how to keep their fingers light on the brush, with the brush at times vertical to the paper, their elbows off the desks. Many kids stood to make it easier to stay light on the brush.

The kids practiced and practiced a simple up/down/up brush stroke to create what was the leaves on the bamboo stalk. They first used newsprint, then practiced more on rice paper. The students observed that different pressure of the brush on the paper created different results. The black paint on the rice paper created another element of observation, as the paint spread much easier on this paper.


The second stroke they practiced was the broad “stalk” stroke. They laid their brushes on the side and gently and lightly, moved the brush upwards towards the top of the paper creating segments of bamboo stalks. Too much pressure made the stalks too thick, and too little paint made the strokes too faint. The students continued to practice their strokes until they got the concept and brush movement.



After much practice, the kids created their painting following steps to create bamboo stalks and leaves on rice paper.


  • Brush Stroke
  • Density


  • Black Watercolor
  • Rice Paper
  • Bamboo brush

2nd grade, Ms. Schroder, Room B3
Art Docent: Marcie Guthrie