Monday, October 8, 2012

Amate Paintings: Creating Visual Records.

Remember how I told you we made two sheets of faux amate (tree bark) paper?  Well we used the second sheet for this assignment.  Above is an authentic amate painting that I purchased several years ago while on my honeymoon in Ixtapa, Mexico.  I selected it because of the wedding scene, and yes, I realize there is a rooster fight taking place in the foreground!  I shared this piece with my students and it served as the inspiration for their assignment.  We discussed the ways that people can keep a visual record of the events that take place in their lives.  This could be done through a painting, like the folk artists in Mexico, or by taking photographs, keeping a Facebook page, recording videos, etc. We talked about how important it is to keep a visual record of our lives.  I explained to the students that although the Mexican artists were farmers, not all of their pictures were of farming activities.  For example, the one above shows a special occasion as well as the traditional sport of rooster fighting.
   The students completed a planning worksheet where they listed ideas for possible artwork.  They were asked to consider everyday events in their lives as well as special occasions.  It was exciting to get to know my students better as we all discussed the many activities that filled their lives.  Even the everyday, such as getting ready for school or taking care of the family pets, allowed each student to gain a new perspective on who they are. There are many ways to teach this lesson by I am including the resource I found to be the most helpful.
    Multicultural Education company Crizmac has their "Gente del Sol" curriculum and it is a great resource and provided these lesson objectives. It was written by multicultural expert Stevie Mack.  They also have a video about the process of making amate paper and show a folk artist painting on it!

 I stressed that the following criteria needed to be included in their compositions:
1.  Stacking of objects and characters without an obvious ground level.
2.  Many characters and objects closely place together.
3.  Unusual size relationships.
4.  Bright, arbitrary colors.
5.  Outlining in black marker or crayon.
6.  A repeating border pattern.
7.  Some of the paper should be left unpainted.

Once an idea was selected as the "best" each student moved forward by completing a pencil sketch on a 12 x 18 manila paper. Here we see Amanda's restaurant scene.  Check below to see the finished work!

When the pencil drawing was complete, students used a black marker, ballpoint pen or black crayon to outline all pencil lines.  The waxy surface of the faux amate paper made it very difficult to outline in marker, so crayon is recommended!

Students used a variety of tempera paints as they began to fill in all areas of their work.  It is pretty important that you purchase several florescent colors so that your amate painting has a color palette
similar to the authentic paintings from Mexico.  The bright paint adds a unique quality to the work and the kids are also highly motivated to use it!

Here is the finished version of Michael T's painting from above.  You can clearly see the ways that he has incorporated the objectives from the criteria list.  I love the giant herd of animals wandering through the middle of the picture.  He shows us the different areas of action that are going on in his visual record of a special event he enjoyed: a family camping trip!

I am including a bunch of awesome paintings, each one unique but all great fun to view.  I hope you will try to figure out what sort of event each student has recorded.  Some are of everyday events and some certainly are not!  The painting above was created by Blessin in period 6.
Jeriann in Period 1 did a great job stacking multiple figures as she filled up this beach scene!

Adam in Period 6 shows that arbitrary bright colors can still come off as masculine if the subject matter is like this!

Kelsey in Period 1 took full advantage of not having to create a composition with a traditional "ground".  Check out the close-up of the adorable and detailed road race runners below!

Each person is less than 2 inches high and I know this was a lot of work!  The details can really set your picture apart from the rest and Kelsey always does her best work.

Alex. P. was concerned that her finished painting was " Too Much".  Too many objects and characters, too many arbitrary colors, too many unusual size relationships...I told her it was great fun to look at! I appreciated that she took risks with this assignment and tried "everything" in one picture!  Keep it up!

Let's contrast her painting with Noah's from Period 3.  Both students met the criteria as outlined in the objectives.  Noah chose to really control the composition: his work is highly organized, the picture is divided into small sections of activity.  There are numerous small dots of paint meticulously applied to form patterns.  Is one better than the other?  Not in my book!

Remember I asked you to keep a lookout for Amanda's finished work after showing you her pencil sketch at the top of this post?  Here is is!  There is so much action, so many characters, such vivid use of color.  Somehow, the whole image has a sense of unity while the scene vibrates right off the paper!

 Zachary D. in Period 3 sure is a jock!  How many sports can one guy fit into one picture?  Awesome way to fill up the paper with a variety of colors, characters and shapes!

And then there is a true individual; Trejur from Period 4.  Her work maintains her unique style even while she successfully meets the objectives of the lesson.  I'm impressed, Trejur!

Sara's amate painting was inspired by her everyday activity of playing her favorite video game.  Don't ask me the name of it, but she proved she has a knack for remembering details since she drew all of this from her memory!
You know what they say about the quiet ones, right?  Janisse let's out her inner "wild woman" in this picture that shows her practicing her own music in her bedroom as she remembers her first concert and the mosh pit below!
And finally, the lovely and very talented Faith M. shows us some of her favorite Christmas memories in one incredible composition.  She masterfully included all of the criteria while infusing her picture with an extra dose of "adorable" along the way.  I suggested that this image could easily become the family christmas card this year!  Faith, I appreciate that you went the extra mile on this assignment!

Please let us know if you have enjoyed viewing our work! I love to read your comments and feedback!


Miss said...

These are simply stunning- such imagination and colour! I love amate bark paintings!!

one little deer said...

Thanks! So pleased that you enjoyed viewing our amate paintings! They were quite time-consuming, but the results are great. :)