Amate painting is a great project to do with kids for Hispanic Heritage Month (September 13-October 15).
Amate painting is a traditional Latin American painting technique. Beyond just being a technique, these paintings are made on Amate, a special tree bark paper that we will simulate using brown paper bags.
Image courtesy Galería Garros via Wikipedia
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Amate Painting Tutorial
To see what traditional Amate painting looks like, and to get some ideas, do a search with your kids and make note of some of the subject matter and stylized designs you see. They might want to practice drawing a few of these before they tackle their project. View as many as you like and be sure to note when something catches your eye.
- Brown paper bags from grocery store
- White chalk
- India ink
- Wide paint brush or sponge brush
- Paper towels
- Tempera paints and/or chalk pastels
- Black permanent marker
Cut one of the larger sides out of the paper bag and crumple it up. A lot! Crumple and re-crumple and crumple again. You're going to want a bunch of creases in there.
Smooth out the bag and lay it on newspaper or a surface you don't mind getting messy. Using watered down india ink (about ¾ water to ¼ ink), and working in sections of the bag, brush ink on the bag, and wipe away any extra with paper towels.
MORE: Don't forget to read these books for Hispanic Heritage Month!
This should leave you with ink collected mostly in the crevices, and the paper now resembles Amate bark.
When the paper is mostly dry, iron it on a low setting to flatten it out enough for painting.
Draw your image with white chalk onto the paper, wiping away any mistakes. Paint and/or chalk pastel over your image. We used washable tempera paints, and found we needed two coats to make the paint more vibrant-looking.
When the paint is dry, you can use a permanent black marker to outline your images, and add in any decorative details.
Although they may not be traditional Latin American painting techniques, there are many ways to give this project your own spin.
For example, use fluorescent tempera paints for a little extra punch.
Or, skip the crumple/ink step if you want to get right to painting, and add the final details in with a white paint pen instead of a permanent marker.
Younger kids can fill in pre-drawn (by you) shapes with paint.
Jeanette Nyberg launched the blog Artchoo as a way to help parents inject creativity into the every day lives of their kids. She features: awesome art and craft projects, beautifully designed products for kids, and general creative inspiration for families.