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Black History Month Artist: Lois Mailou Jones

Black history month art projects are a great way to learn about some amazing people who had to forge their own way in the world.

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.

This project was inspired by Lois and features a lesson in mask drawing and pattern making. One of my favorite ways to “age” any drawing is to cover it with black oil pastel and then scrape it off. It’s a process also known as scraffito and can be messy, but the look is well worth it, in my opinion.

View and Download Lois Mailou Jones Art Project PDF


  • Drawing paper, printed with grid from Project PDF (page 3)
  • Black Sharpie markers, fine tip and chisel tip
  • Oil pastels
  • Stick to scrape (dental flosser works fine)


  1. PREP: Print paper with grid for each student.
  2. Students draw the mask on the grid paper as shown.
  3. The drawing is traced with a chisel tipped marker to make thick lines.
  4. A geometric pattern is drawn on the background and traced with a fine tip marker.
  5. The drawing is colored with oil pastels.
  6. The entire drawing is covered with black pastel.
  7. The black layer is scraped off with a stick or scraper.