My 5th grade African-inspired Art lesson was based on painted houses in South Africa created by the Ndebele tribe. (I had to look up how to pronounce it!) The designs on the houses are so cool- definitely the most inspiring thing I came across when researching Art from Southern Africa. The houses are painted by women in the tribe and usually feature geometric shapes, bright colors, and symmetrical designs.
I decided that the project would be creating a painting that was inspired by the house paintings. The students were to make a symmetrical design with geometric shapes and then to tie in color theory, they had to mix each secondary color and at least one tint.
THIS was the best resource I found to explain the significance and process of the traditional Ndebele house paintings. The first step in creating the designs is to divide the wall into sections by creating diagonal lines. I let the students use the straight edge of a ruler to make diagonal lines (a big "X") from corner to corner and the rest of their designs were created with black tempera paint directly on the paper. Some acted nervous about not using pencils first but once they got started, everybody just relaxed into the process.
I originally planned for this to take 2 classes (I'm always optimistic) but I had to add a 3rd. The first day was for the introduction and using black tempera paint to plan out the symmetrical geometric design. In the 2nd class, the students were given tempera paint in the primary colors and white. In the 3rd class, the students finished painting with color and then did touchups with more black tempera paint. Several finished early and had time to write artist statements about their projects:
Destiny2778 says this about his/her art...I made a painting that is inspired by the people of the Ndebele tribe. my painting is a mixture of shapes, colors, and crazy designs, but I wish I didn't make so many shapes, that ws really confusing! Well... thanks for choosing my art to look at! :)
Kaelan34 says this about his/her art...This is a painting that uses primary colors, secondary colors, and a tint color. People in the Ndebele tribe draw designs on their houses. Then they paint in the designs. Then they have a colorful house. it's pretty much what I did except on paper. This was a fun project.
I really loved this project and I think the students enjoyed it just as much as me! I'm calling it a keeper! I think it worked because the inspiration caught their attention and they were able to make personal choices within a structure. You can see more in our Artsonia exhibit.