Colorful Bark Paintings made by the people of Xalitla, Mexico, are the primary source of income for their entire community. These paintings are made on amate paper (from the bark of the wild fig tree) and typically depict flowers, birds, plants, and animals.
- Brown paper grocery bag
- Black (F) Sharpie
- Heavy books or iron for pressing the paper flat
- Tempera paint in assorted colors, plus white
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 the 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.
8. After your paint is dry, you can use your Sharpie to go back over any lines that were covered up by the paint.