Senufo Mud PaintingsDownload a PDF of the Senufo Mud Painting Lesson

Concept: Composition with shape and form / Painting

Grade: 5th

New York State Learning Standards:

  • Standard 1: Creating, Performing and Participating in the Arts:
    Students will actively engage in the processes that constitute creation and performance in the arts and participate in various roles in the arts.
  • Standard 2: Knowing and Using Arts Materials and Resources:
    Students will be knowledgeable about and make use of the materials and resources available for participation in the arts in various roles.
  • Standard 3: Responding to and Analyzing Works of Art:
    Students will respond critically to a variety of works in the arts, connecting the individual work to other works and to other aspects of human endeavor    and thought.
  • Standard 4: Understanding the Cultural Dimensions and Contributions of the Arts:
    Students will develop an understanding of the personal and cultural forces that shape artistic communication and how the arts in turn shape the diverse cultures of past and present society.

Objective:

  • Art Criticism:
    Students will observe how the Senufo people created mud paintings. Students will compare their pieces to Senufo mud paintings, specifically from the Ivory Coast in West Africa. The students will discuss different shapes used to create the mud painting.
  • Art Production:
    Students will prepare a simple drawing of an animal on the brown paper. Students then begin to paint shapes inside the animal shape, creating texture and patterns to create the feel of a mud painted animal.

Teacher Aims:
(to encourage, to engage, to present, to challenge, etc.)

  • To talk to the students about the Senufo people and explain how they create these mud paintings, why they create them, and why they use the materials they use.
  • To help the students draw simple forms of animals.
  • To show students how to use shapes, patterns, and designs.
  • To help the students think about why they chose the animal they had.

Student Aims:
(To explore, to discover, to invent)

  1. To examine a small portion of the West African culture and Senufo people.
  2. To think about how and why Senufo people create mud paintings.
  3. To think about elements of pattern and shape and stylized animal designs
  4. To consider the materials used
  5. To think about the described keywords
  6. To understand what society and culture mean
  7. Will look at composition of shape and design

References:
(Use art as inspiration and visual references)

Vocabulary:
(New art terms or other words to expand their vocabularies)
  • West Africa
  • Senufo people
  • Senufo painting
  • Stylized animals
  • Falma dye: Falma bush ground to make dye
  • Mud dye: Mud used as a dye to create paintings
  • Society: An organized group of people with similar association.
  • Culture: social behavior patterns, arts, beliefs, institutions, and all other products of human work and thought.

Materials and Preparation:
(List Art Materials)

  • sketch paper
  • brown paper or paper bags or burlap
  • pencils
  • erasers
  • black and white tempera paint

Motivation/Presentation:
(Present or elicit the reasons why they are doing this; get them to want to do it.)

Introduction to the topic:
“Fakaha is a small village in the country of West Africa. The Senufo people create paintings that are stylized drawings of masked figures and animals. Painted by the men, who live in Fakaha, the paintings are drawn and painted on pieces of white, loosely woven, cotton fabric. First, the Senufo draw the figures freehand with a yellowish-green dye made from the leaves of the falma bush. Then a second coat of black paint is drawn on top of the falma dye. This paint is made from a sludgy mud dug from the roots of trees in swampy areas. Traditional Senufo paintings were made into dance or hunting clothes. The Senufo believe the drawings have special powers that protect and bring the hunter good luck. Today this cloth is seldom made into hunting clothes. Instead, the paintings are sold to tourists and specialty shops. Many have become ornamental fabrics for wall hangings, pillows, tablecloths, or other decorative items.”

Procedures:
“First we need to find an animal to draw. We then need to draw out the animal with simple outlined shape.” “We need to draw different shapes inside the animal to create the animal.” “This will be done in all black and later we can go back in with white after the black dries.”  “We then need to make a border around the outside using similar shapes.”

Problem Statement:
(A challenge in one sentence that may be written at any point in the planning)

We have identified what Senufo mud paintings are, but why do the Senufo people create these mud paintings and why do they use those materials?

Procedure:
(Explain each step, using experimentation, guided exploration, or demonstration as necessary.)

  1. Give the students the background information on the Senufo animals.
  2. Have students create one or two sketches of animals on the worksheet handed out of snakes, crocodiles, birds, or fish. Or they can choose a favorite animal.
  3. Students decorate the figures Senufo-style with circle, line, or triangle designs. Include some symbols that might represent good fortune or protection.
  4. Students draw them on a piece of brown paper or burlap fabric. Add line, dot, and triangle designs to the drawings.
  5. Students will be shown how to paint with black paint first for one period and then white for another period to prevent the mixing of paint.
  6. Make sure the students give their own work a unique title and that it also has their name on the back.

Students Reconstruct Problem in Their Own Words:
(How might they tell you what they’re supposed to do?)

After the teacher is done explaining to the students of what he/she wants them to do the teacher asks:

  • “Now, are there any questions? Usually students do not have questions as this time because they either know what they are doing OR they feel stupid asking questions. This is why the teacher will then ask a specific student if they can explain what they need to do. A student will then describe what they were told to do.
  • “First we need to find an animal to draw. We then need to draw out the animal with simple outlined shape.”
  • “We need to draw different shapes inside the animal to create the animal.”
  • “This will be done in all black and later we can go back in with white after the black dries.”
  • “We then need to make a border around the outside.”

Work Period:
(Teacher observes, provides; pupils do)

  • Help those that are not sure of how to start
  • Walk around to make sure students stay on task and are making progress
  • Help students collect materials to use
  • Have students use the entire time to draw and plan animal drawing for the first class, the next two classes will be used to painting and finish designs.

Medial Summary:
(If necessary, teacher intervenes with class or with individuals during work period)

  • Show some additional examples to struggling students
  • Help narrow down shapes to use
  • Have other activities available for students that have disabilities and behavior problems.

Final Work Period:
(Students complete work and clean up)

  • Make sure all students are finishing up work and that the composition does not need any work
  • NO art supplies are on the floor
  • All paint is cleaned from table
  • Students finished work is put away in a safe place to dry where it will not be damaged

Discussion and Evaluation:
(Discuss the work of individual students and group. May be a summary of the class period or may occur the following period or at the end of a unit)

On the final day of the lesson ask if any of the students would like to talk about why they chose to paint that specific animal. See if the students remember information on the Senufo people and why they paint these animals with mud.

Relation to Life:
(individuals reflect on what they have learned)

“Have you ever painted animals in this fashion? Have you ever seen similar paintings as these? Where and when? Do you think this culture is much different then our own, why or why not?”

Wall Text for Exhibit:

The Senufo people of West Africa create paintings that are stylized drawings of masked figures and animals. Painted by the men, who live in Fakaha, the paintings are drawn and painted on pieces of white, loosely woven, cotton fabric. The animals include birds, snakes, fish, crocodiles, and turtles. The masked dancer figures are often shown from the side or front view. Sometimes they are shown with a front-view body and a side-view head. Geometric designs such as circles, stripes, and zigzags embellish the drawings.

Ideals for Further Work:
(May be generated by individuals or the group, done at home in school)

Talk to the students about Senufo masks and how they connect to the African Senufo people and Senufo mud paintings. They will create a Senufo mask if they finish the Senufo mud painting early.

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