Tuesday, March 29, 2011


Amate bark paintings can be found for sale in various states in Mexico and have a long and interesting history. During this project we learned about the Otomi tribe near Puebla, Mexico.
Rather than gathering bark from fig trees, boiling it, pounding it, then laying it out in the sun to dry, we chose to crumple up sheets of paper from grocery bags in order to achieve the appearance of amate bark paper.

After crumpling the paper we added a thin coat of diluted India ink with a sponge brush. The India ink helps bring out the texture of the creases in the paper, giving it the look of handmade paper.
After the ink wash was completely dry, we drew outlines of our images with chalk.
The next step was to paint our images using tempera paint. Amate bark paintings in Mexico typically include bright, sometimes neon colors. My students were given a limited palette of colors in order to maintain true amate style.

Hopi students are eager to include iconic images from the Hopi culture into their artwork. The results are always quite impressive.
Here is the work of a kindergartener with the Hopi sun, Tawa, as the central image.