Abstract Art with Alma Woodsey Thomas

This abstract art lesson let my students choose which painting format they wanted to try out — a circular or an vertical stripe one. By the way, this artist, Alma Woodsey Thomas, developed her signature style—large, abstract paintings filled with patterns of bright colors—in her 70s. She also was the first African American artist to have a show at the famous Whitney museum in New York.   MATERIALS Multimedia paper Liquid tempera paint Circle … Read More

Martin Luther King Mural Template

A Martin Luther King history project can easily include a mural, if you start with my PDF template. These students from the Bronx show how even simple pencil crayons can make a striking image. This photo was sent to me years ago by a teacher in the Bronx. I love how you can see all the coloring lines, yet they make a distinct portrait when done. MATERIALS Martin Luther King PDF Mural ($5 in … Read More

Draw Martin Luther King Update

I created this Martin Luther King for kids project last year, but it needed a little tweaking. I hope it helps a few classrooms that are celebrating MLK Day. Please note that the eyebrows are made by coloring heavier with crayons. Older students may find that a good way to add some shadows to Dr. Martin Luther King’s face too. • View and download Martin Luther King PDF tutorial MATERIAL • Color print of … Read More

Gee’s Bend Quilt Collage

The women of Gee’s Bend — a small, remote, black community in Alabama — have created hundreds of quilt masterpieces dating from the early twentieth century to the present. This community also has a pretty fascinating connection to Dr. Martin Luther King. You can read the book “Belle, the Last Mule at Gee’s Bend” to find out more. I have long loved the look of the quilts made by these women, I had no … Read More

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 … Read More

Lois Mailou Jones Drawing

This Lois Mailou Jones-inspired drawing is in honor of Black History month. During Lois’ remarkable life, she painted, designed masks, textiles and stained glass windows, traveled the world and never stopped learning. Her “Les Fetiches” art has a style that is fun to imitate. MATERIALS • Black card stock paper • Colored pencils DIRECTIONS 1. Starting with a black sheet of paper (I prefer art paper, not construction paper as it often is just dark gray) … Read More

Celebrate Black History with W. H. Johnson

In celebration of Black History month, I’ve created this mural in the style of William H. Johnson (1901-1970), a very talented painter who had a difficult life. He came to be widely admired for his primitive style and bright colors, but sadly, only after he had passed away. I love the rural scenes that he often painted, so I’ve created a new mural with big, flat shapes in his style of drawing that you may color … Read More

Faith Ringgold Flag Collage

Faith Ringgold, an African-American artist, is best known for her large story quilts. In 1985 she made a piece titled “Flag Story Quilt” which inspired this collage. I love how the bright colors and irregular pieces look like a homemade flag. • View and download PDF Flag template MATERIALS • Card stock paper • Old magazines • Scissors • Glue sticks • Hole punch DIRECTIONS 1. To help plan swatches, I gave the students a … Read More

Bernard Hoyes Dancing Lady

Jamaican-born artist Bernard Hoyes is among the most widely collected and exhibited of contemporary artists. Through his art, many have been able to connect with Jamaica’s colorful traditions and culture. MATERIALS • Drawing paper • Black Sharpie • Oil pastels DIRECTIONS 1. Past experience has proven that students almost always draw images too small, so requiring art to touch all four sides of the paper helps to eliminate this tendency. Students start with drawing … Read More

Lois Mailou Jones Style Drawing

This Lois Mailou Jones-inspired drawing is in honor of Black History month. During Lois’ remarkable life, she painted, designed masks, textiles and stained glass windows, traveled the world and never stopped learning. Her “Les Fetiches” art has a style that is fun to imitate. MATERIALS • Black cardstock paper • Colored pencils DIRECTIONS 1. Starting with a black sheet of paper (I prefer art paper, not construction paper as it often is just dark gray) the … Read More

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