Ndebele House Paintings, 4th Grade

housepainting4th Graders have been learning about the Ndebele house paintings of South Africa. The Ndebele women carry on this traditional art form, covering their village (homes, gates, and doors) with bright colors, symmetrical patterns, and geometric shapes. Students enjoyed learning about the tools used to create these detailed, flat designs. What were once painted using only the women’s fingers, are now done using brushes made of bundled twigs with feathers. We also learned that these paintings were used as a form of communication or “secrete code” known only to the Ndebele people. Years of grief and hardship were brought onto the Ndebele people, after the loss of a war with a neighboring tribe. From sadness and grief emerged a new expressive art form. It’s true that art truly heals the soul. IMG_2706

maxhousepaintingWe began our house painting design by first drawings an X on our paper. Using geometric shapes, students got to work creating their symmetrical designs. Once their lines were drawn, students could choose Ndebele colors to fill in their shapes. We completed our “secrete code” designs by going over our lines with black tempera paint.

Charlie Harper Cardinals

Image3C has been learning about one of my favorite bird illustrators, Charlie Harper. Student studied Charley Harper’s love of animals and nature. We looked at and discussed his use of symmetry, flat area of color, and geometric shapes. After comparing Harper’s cardinals, to  photographs of cardinals in the wild, we set out to create our winter scenes. We cut and pasted colored construction paper, and used oil pastels to add details to our collages. We worked hard to create symmetry in our cardinal, birdbath, and leaves. I love how these turned out! Each one unique in size, shape, and personality.


ImageEmma C. 3C


Emma G. 3C


Faith 3C


Katie 3C

“Wildlife art has been dominated by realism, but I have chosen to do it differently because I think flat, hard-edge, and simple.” – Charlie Harper