Mexican Bark Painting

“Mex­i­can Bark Paint­ing” by Arin

Col­or­ful Bark Paint­ings made by the peo­ple of Xal­itla, Mex­ico, are the pri­mary source of income for their entire com­mu­nity. These paint­ings on amate paper (made from the bark of the wild fig tree) typ­i­cally depict flow­ers, birds, plants and animals.

1. Cut apart a brown paper gro­cery bag. (I can usu­ally get 3 or 4 “bark papers” from one bag.)
2. Draw fan­ci­ful designs of birds, plants or ani­mals on brown paper. Leave some space between your draw­ing and the edge of the paper.
3. Out­line with a black (F) Sharpie and erase any pen­cil lines still show­ing.
4. Crin­kle paper, smooth it out, and repeat until your paper is an even, “crum­pled” tex­ture.
5. Smooth out paper again and press it under heavy books to flat­ten it. You can also iron your paper on a medium set­ting (no steam!) if nec­es­sary.
6. Use tem­pera paint to care­fully paint inside your black lines. (Neon tem­pera is espe­cially fun for this project, although it’s a bit more expen­sive.) Leave the back­ground unpainted to show the “bark” paper.
7. After your paint is dry, you can go back over any lines with your Sharpie that were cov­ered up by the paint.

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8 Responses to Mexican Bark Painting

  1. Kathy Barbro August 10, 2009 at 1:05 pm #

    Wow! I am in love with this paint­ing!! I will have to try it out. Thanks for remind­ing me how cool that krafty brown paper look can be.

  2. goldenbird August 10, 2009 at 1:57 pm #

    I love this idea. Thank you!

  3. Craig August 12, 2009 at 2:17 am #


  4. Charlene August 12, 2009 at 5:29 pm #

    Fun to mar­ble the paper to give it a faux bark look. This project turns out great and the kids love the neon paint.

  5. muller August 30, 2009 at 7:37 pm #

    beau­ti­ful artworks.

  6. Brenda August 31, 2009 at 5:06 pm #

    Great idea! Love how bright the col­ors look on the brown paper!

  7. Hope Chella November 29, 2009 at 11:35 am #

    I can not wait to try this with my third graders :D As a sec­ond year art teacher I espe­cially appre­ci­ate all of your les­son shar­ing and point­ers!!!! Thanks Again XO

  8. Brittany April 29, 2014 at 6:07 pm #

    This is gor­geous! I love how there is always back­ground infor­ma­tion and infor­ma­tion about artists.

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