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Black History Artist: Lois Mailou Jones

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.

black history art projects

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)


Now it’s easy to make a classroom mural to celebrate the creative work of African American artist Lois Mailou Jones.

All you need to do is purchase a Lois Mailou Jones Mural template from my PDF Shop, have each student color a page, and then tape or glue it back together according to included directions.

It makes a special work of art for your classroom, and because everyone takes part, a collaborative experience as well.


Time needed: 1 hour.

Black History Art Projects

  1. Draw a skull and trace with thick black marker.

  2. Fill with bright oil pastel colors.

  3. Cover everything with a thick layer of black pastel.

  4. Scrap away the top layer of the mask with a scraper.

  5. Continue scraping until the mask is all uncovered.

More Black History Projects

How to Draw like Lois Mailou Jones
How to Draw like Romare Bearden
abstract art lesson
How to Draw like Alma Thomas
How to Draw like Faith Ringgold
quilt art lesson
Gees Band Quilt Collage

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