Faux” Mexican Bark “Paintings”

These Mex­i­can Bark “Paint­ings” by my 5th graders got more “wows” than any other project at our recent school art show. By using mark­ers instead of paint, we saved time in both prep and clean-up, as well as the extra step of touch­ing up with black Sharpie after paint­ing. And the marker on the brown paper pro­duced some beau­ti­ful col­ors! Using mark­ers in place of paint was an exper­i­ment I tried because we were a lit­tle short on time, but these “paint­ings” turned out even bet­ter than I expected.… I will def­i­nitely use this tech­nique again!


  • Brown paper gro­cery bags, cut apart to approx. 12x14
  • Pen­cil and eraser
  • Black “F” Sharpie
  • Cray­ola Water-based markers
  • White tem­pera paint
  • Fine point paint brush, about a size “2”

1. Use pen­cil to draw some fan­ci­ful birds, flow­ers, or ani­mals on your paper. Add a dec­o­ra­tive bor­der along one edge, if you want.
2. Then, trace over your pen­cil lines with Sharpie.
3. Next, crin­kle your paper, smooth it out, and repeat until you have an even, “crum­pled” tex­ture. (Flat­ten your paper by plac­ing under heavy books overnight or press with a dry iron.)
4. Now, color your design with mark­ers. Make sure you leave some of the brown paper back­ground show­ing!
5. Finally, add small dots of white paint with a fine point brush
around some areas of your design to make them “pop”.

, , , ,

13 Responses to Faux” Mexican Bark “Paintings”

  1. Jacquelien March 15, 2010 at 2:15 am #

    These are really great!
    One ques­tion: do you crum­ple the paper before draw­ing or after it?

  2. Kathy March 15, 2010 at 4:43 am #

    Lovely! I like the idea of adding the white dots. The fifth graders have some very charm­ing work.

  3. TeachKidsArt March 15, 2010 at 7:53 am #

    Jacquelien — We always crum­ple the paper AFTER trac­ing our draw­ings with Sharpie. If you crum­ple it first, it’s harder to draw on and if you don’t trace your lines with Sharpie before you crum­ple it, the pen­cil seems to wear off and almost dis­ap­pear when you crum­ple the paper. You could prob­a­bly crum­ple it after col­or­ing with mark­ers, but before paint­ing the dots, although I haven’t tried it that way.

  4. Cheryl Hancock March 16, 2010 at 8:24 am #

    I just love the chil­drens mex­i­can bark paint­ings. Another tech­nique I have just used to do the same project is to cover the brown paper with wax by rub­bing white can­dles( clear) onto the paper. Crush up the paper, open up and flat­ten by hand, and then brush on the cracked waxed side dye with water based edi­col or food colour( I mixed up a brown from green and orange)it resists most of the dye. PLace upside down on news­pa­per and iron to dry and reflat­ten and remove some of the wax. The paper can then be drawn on or painted on. I have just fin­ished make amate pic­a­dos ( search on the inter­net. I made a basic sten­cil which the stu­dents then developed.

  5. Charlene March 16, 2010 at 3:50 pm #

    I did this project a cou­ple years ago with 5th grade also. Since we are in Ari­zona, I changed it to plants and ani­mals of Ari­zona. We used flu­o­res­cent paints and out­lined with sharpies. I also made a faux bark paper by hav­ing the stu­dents crum­ple it, flat­ten it, and then dip in into a water bath that had some watered down brown and black tem­pera paint added. We then had to flat­ten it overnight. I’m impressed at how well they look with mark­ers! Great job!

  6. Siem March 19, 2010 at 1:20 pm #

    Some­times I wish I was still a kid.
    They make such a beau­ti­full art.

    Love from Hol­land,

  7. Cheryl Hancock March 19, 2010 at 5:12 pm #

    Char­lene flat­ten with a mod­er­ate temp iron. I was given an old one. It can be done so quickly and the kids can start paint­ing or draw­ing again straight away. I do the iron­ing and guess with a class of 25 kids it takes me about 10 mins to get through everyone.It does not remove all the cracks or crinkles

  8. Cheryl Hancock March 19, 2010 at 5:15 pm #

    Oops for­got to say the use a pile of old news­pa­per to iron on to absorb the wet colour, and change every 5 piece approx. Cheryl

  9. Charlene March 20, 2010 at 9:25 am #

    Thanks for the great advice Cheryl!

  10. Kathy March 21, 2010 at 7:21 am #

    these are beautiful

  11. Mary Jane March 29, 2010 at 8:49 am #

    Won­der­ful blog! You should make a CD and sell it to art teach­ers!
    Mean­while, is there a way to get the Faux Bark project printed? It is awe­some!
    I just found your blog and sub­scribed to your newslet­ter. Thanks so much!

  12. TeachKidsArt March 29, 2010 at 4:24 pm #

    Thanks, Mary Jane! Right now, my lessons are just on my blog, but some­day I hope to have more options avail­able.…. Stay tuned!

  13. pradeep May 8, 2010 at 3:15 am #

    This com­ment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Leave a Reply

CommentLuv badge