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Arts & Activities - Page 29

Amate Bark Designs by Matt Mazur nspired by a beautiful bookmark one of my students made for me as a gift, I began a lesson exploring the vibrant bark paintings popular all over Mexico. The majority of my students have Mexican ancestr y, so exploring the arts of Mexico is always popular and well received. Amate paintings can also be a great way to introduce the geography and cultures of South and Central America. WHAT IS AMATE? Amate is a paper I Elvina made from the pulp of fig and mulberry trees. The amate paintings provide a great source of income for many small Mexican villages. The subject matter for these paintings is typically flowers, birds, plants and animals. GET THINGS STARTED We begin by looking at examples of Amate paintings. We discuss the common subject matter—exotic and colorful flowers and Mexico’s native birds and animals. We also compare and contrast regular drawing paper to the bark paper that is used in these artworks. Texture is a key concept here, and the students are always ver y eager to feel the roughness of the Amate paper. I provide the students with lots of examples from pictures, but having an authentic Amate painting is much more intriguing. We use tea to color our paper, giving it a more primitive look. My favored method for this is to place the paper on the baking sheet and then pour the tea on top. If you touch the paper often it will dry with more lines, water spots, and dark areas. The students decide if they want the paper evenly colored or more stained. CREATING THE DESIGN Students begin by making a sketch that includes the three required elements: some type of flower or nature, an animal, and a border on at least one edge of the page. As reference, handouts that contain examples of native animal symbols are made available. Students must choose whether they prefer realistic animals, more Brady abstracted symbol-like animals or ones similar to the Amate painting examples. Once the sketch is completed, students can begin drawing it out large on the stained paper. I always remind the students to think of the elements of design: particularly balance and emphasis to create more visual interest. VIBRANT COLOR The final phase of the project involves coloring in the designs with markers. Remind the students not to color the background, which would cover up the beautiful stain wash. Once the coloring is complete, students crumble up the papers to give them that rough, primitive texture. Students should crumble the paper three to four times, being careful not to rip or tear the edges. Students then bring me their papers to be ironed out. This keeps the paper relatively flat, but keeps the texture consistent with the authentic Amate papers of Mexico. For students who finished early, they may add some dots with white paint as a simple embellishment. n Leslie NATIONAL ART STANDARDS • • Understand and apply media, techniques and processes. Understand the visual arts in relation to history and cultures. LEARNING OBJECTIVES Middle-school students will . MATERIALS • • • learn the process of making Amate paper and its use in the Latin American culture. learn the style and imagery used in Amate and create a similarly styled artwork. demonstrate a strong understanding of texture and color. • • • • • • • Examples of Amate paintings 12" x 18" paper black tea baking sheets Pencils, markers, erasers White paint, brushes Iron januar y 2013 Matt Mazur is an Art Specialist at G.B. Dealey Montessori Vanguard and International Academy in Dallas, Texas. 29 www.ar tsandactivities.com x 80 YEARS •

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