Monday, November 26, 2012

Middle School Amate Bark Painting

For years now, I've kept these colorful little paintings that I found while sorting through my late grandfather's house. I did not know what they were or where they are from, but I had a hunch that they were a travel souvenier... and I loved the brown handmade paper they are painted upon!

Finally, on the never-ending quest for middle school art lessons in my new teaching placement, BINGO! I found a lesson for "Amate Bark Paintings," and noticed that the resources looked suspiciously like the little paintings from Grandpa's house!

To prepare our "bark paper," we crumpled 6x9" pieces of grocery bags, smoothed them, and painted with watered-down India Ink using foam brushes. We ripped the edges to recreate the look of handmade paper-- all this after discussing the ACTUAL process of making bark paper, of course...

Viewing examples of Amate bark paintings, students were asked to identify commonalities between the works, and thus formed several main objectives for creation of a successful painting:

1. Stylized bird or animal as focal point (meaning the style is universal to the genre, i.e. how people in Egyptian art look very similar to each other in a simplified fashion)

2. Surrounded by branches, plants and flowers that use the principles of movement (to lead your eye around the composition) and rhythm (repeated elements such as flowers/leaves)

Students painted their designs with neon tempera paint (I had been looking for a way to use up those bottles!) and then outlined the completed shapes with permanent marker.


  1. I have seen these around and keep wanting to try them. Thanks for the great tutorial!

    1. Thanks for the comment. It was a fun project to make!