Mar 28 2011

Telling Stories Through Art

Title: African Art Appreciation Workshop – Focus on Color

Developed by: Gabriela Mariño
Age range: 7-12 years old


  • African art work examples
  • Tempera paint
  • Paint brushes
  • Cloth 10” x 12”

Workshop Background:

Art is the process or product of deliberately arranging elements in a way that appeals to the senses or emotions.  It encompasses a diverse range of human activities, creations, and modes of expression, including music, literature, film, sculpture and paintings.  When it comes to art, Africans often tell stories about everyday life, culture, religion and family in their compositions.

In African visual art, beauty comes over a different perspective in comparison with occidental and European:  a swell or big belly might seem non esthetic in a female figure for an occidental artist, but for an African artist this might mean fertility; sink in eyes might mean illness or sorrow, this might also mean wisdom; a human figure on its knee might symbolize submission but it might also mean rest.


The main objective of this workshop is to introduce kids to visual art appreciation using African paintings as a platform from where they will be able to establish differences between Western and African art in terms of texture, color styles and composition.

After describing the main elements that characterize African paintings and making a demonstration of various African artist paintings and photographs, participants will be encouraged to make their own artistic representation using the previously mentioned design principles and the material provided by us.  

Focus on Color

Color has to do specifically with the tones, shades and texture.  African paintings are characterized for having schematic black figures in contrast with the background.  They are also characterized by the use of hot colors such as red, yellow and orange.  Black and earth colors also stand out.

P3060690 for blog

“Aprendí que los afro antillanos en sus pinturas relatan historias, además utilizan colores calidos, llamativos y negros y también utilizan formas. (‘I learned that West Indians tell stories in their paintings, and they use hot colors that grab your attention, and black and they also use forms’)” Carla participated in the VFOA African Art Appreciation workshop instructed by Gabriela Mariño at the 2011 Great West Indian Fair in Panama City, Panama.

Step 1: Begin by showing images of African paintings. Lead participants into an observation process and give them the following list of elements to focus on:

  • Hot colors
  • Black figures
  • Earth colors

Step 2: Give participants some note paper to jot down 1-3 sentences about what they learned.  Make sure they remember to include the previously mentioned elements which characterize African artwork.

Step 3: Give participants materials to paint: tempera, paintbrush, cloth.  Participants will create a painting about an everyday life activity of their choice.  Encourage them to remember the previously mentioned elements which characterize African artwork.  Give participants enough time to finish their work.

Step 4: Ask participants to present and explain their artwork pointing out the elements they identified in the examples they analyzed before.


2 responses so far

2 Responses to “Telling Stories Through Art”

  1.   Andrea Tayloron 29 Mar 2011 at 12:21 pm

    Excellent Gabriela!

    Any chance of a repeat so that my little one can get involved too?


  2.   Gabrielaon 30 Mar 2011 at 8:16 am

    Hopefully we can do this again. It was a great experience and a wonderful opportunity to share with the kids. I’ll contact you next time.


Trackback URI | Comments RSS

Leave a Reply