Black history art projects can teach students about some amazing African American artists who had to forge their own way in the world. Lois Mailou Jones was one of them.
Lois Mailou Jones (1905 – 1998) had an impressive career, but do you know how she got started? She had been working as a textile designer and often sold her bold fabric creations to department stores. One day a decorator told her that a colored girl wasn’t capable of producing such beautiful designs. This prompted Jones to shift her artistic focus to the fine arts so she could sign her name to her work, and no one could doubt her ever again.
This project was inspired by Lois and features a lesson in mask drawing. It includes one of my favorite ways to “age” any drawing by covering it with black oil pastel and then scraping it off. It’s a process also known as sgraffito and can be messy, but the final etched look is well worth the trouble.
- Lois Mailou Jones PDF tutorial
- Card stock paper, 8.5″ x 11″, printed with grid from PDF (optional)
- Black Sharpie markers, chisel tip*
- Black Sharpie markers, fine tip*
- Oil pastels, I use the Portfolio brand*
- Stick to scrape (dental flosser works fine)
*The above product links are referrals. If you click through and take action, I’ll be compensated a small amount, at no extra expense to you.
Time needed: 1 hour.
Black History Art Projects
- Draw a skull and trace with thick black marker.
- Fill with bright oil pastel colors.
- Cover everything with a thick layer of black pastel.
- Scrap away the top layer of the mask with a scraper.
- Continue scraping until the mask is all uncovered.