ELDERS – Mixed Media, Cree Métis Artist George Littlechild

Students create a mixed media artwork using watercolour paints, crayons, fine black markers, and photographs. They reflect on their shared life experiences with the elders in their lives. 

Required Time

120 Minutes

Grade Level

Grade 3 to Grade 8

Subject

Language Arts
Visual Arts
First Nations, Metis, Inuit

Vocabulary

background colour emphasis foreground middle ground

Materials

Photographs of Elders in Your Life Access to a Photocopier Small Cups of Water Watercolour Paper 27.9 cm x 38.1 cm (11" x 15") Drawing Paper Glue Sticks Scissors Markers Watercolour Paints Paint Brushes Crayons

Steps

ELDERS – Mixed Media, Cree Métis Artist George Littlechild - Step One

Step One

  1. Brainstorm words and images connected to the elders in your life.
  2. Reflect on what you have learned from the elders in your life.
  3. In your mind's eye picture a life experience you have had with a special grandparent, mentor, or teacher, who you have learned from. How did you feel? What colours would express your feelings?
ELDERS – Mixed Media, Cree Métis Artist George Littlechild - Step Two

Step Two

  1. Use a mind map to draw and write about your shared experiences with the elders (e.g., grandparents, mentors, teachers) in your life.
ELDERS – Mixed Media, Cree Métis Artist George Littlechild - Step Three

Step Three

  1. Use a paint brush to cover a piece of watercolour paper in clear water.
ELDERS – Mixed Media, Cree Métis Artist George Littlechild - Step Four

Step Four

  1. Close your eyes and think about the experiences you have had with the elders in your life.
  2. Remember stories you have been told about your ancestors, great grandparents, and grandparents. What were their lives like? What colours best represent your feelings toward the elders in your life?
  3. Choose watercolours to add to your paper already painted with clear water.
  4. Dip your brush into water first, then add paint to it, allowing the colours to bleed into each other, and move with the water.
  5. Cover the entire paper in colour.
  6. Set the paper aside to dry.
ELDERS – Mixed Media, Cree Métis Artist George Littlechild - Step Five

Step Five

  1. Find photographs of elders who are part of your life.
  2. Photocopy the photographs and cut out the images of the elders (e.g., grandparents, great grandparents) in your life.
ELDERS – Mixed Media, Cree Métis Artist George Littlechild - Step Six

Step Six

  1. Use a glue stick to glue the images of the elders onto your dried watercolour painting.
  2. Glue the larger photographs in the foreground, the medium sized photographs in the middle ground, and the smallest photographs in the background.
ELDERS – Mixed Media, Cree Métis Artist George Littlechild - Step Seven

Step Seven

  1. Use a fine line black marker to write about the life experiences, feelings, and stories connected to each elder.
  2. Write around each photograph, creating a frame of words.
ELDERS – Mixed Media, Cree Métis Artist George Littlechild - Step Eight

Step Eight

  1. Use a variety of crayons, e.g., construction paper crayons, glitter crayons, to emphasize the colour on each photograph.
  2. Use the crayons to draw special life experiences you have shared with each of the elders in your life.
ELDERS – Mixed Media, Cree Métis Artist George Littlechild - Step Nine

Step Nine

  1. When you have completed your artwork share your special experiences and memories of the elders who are part of your life with your classmates.
  2. Reflect on what you have learned from the elders in your life.

Learning Goals

Students will be able to:

  1. Create a mixed media artwork using watercolours, collage, markers and crayons;
  2. Use words, drawings and photographs to communicate their feelings, stories, and life experiences with elders;
  3. Make connections between colours and their feelings about the elders in their life;
  4. Use size to show space, and contrast to create emphasis in the artwork; and
  5. Demonstrate technical accomplishment and creativity.

Extensions

Have students:

  1. Interview elders in the community and document their stories.
  2. Make a family tree.
  3. Read stories about the history of the land they live on from the perspective of the First Peoples.
  4. Invite elders into their classroom to share their life experiences, and create a class book documenting the experiences.

Prepare

  1. Prior to the lesson visit the OISE website titled, "Deepening Knowledge: Resources for and about Aboriginal Education". Dr. Nicole Bell has created a resource focused on First Nations Elders, at the following link,
    OISE
  2. Jason Yup has created a series of videos about elders on the OISE website at the following link. Preview some of the videos and choose some that will be appropriate to show to your students. Each video shares teachings from an elder.  
    Yup
  3. Download some images of George Littlechild's mixed media paintings available at his website,
    Littlechild
  4. Get the book,The Song Within My Heart, by David Bouchard and Allen Sapp.
  5. Download the Colour poster available on this website,
    Colour

Introduction

  1. Discuss with your students, who is an elder, and why special respect should be given to elders. Reflect on how one becomes an elder.
  2. Using Dr. Nicole Bell's resource about First Nations Elders, explain how elders are treated, and why it is important to show an elder respect.
  3. If possible invite an elder to come to speak with the students and share a story from their life experience.
    - It is important to remember that First Nations Peoples from different communities will have different protocols for how to receive elders. Always check with the elders about protocols before any visit.
  4. Share mixed media paintings by George Littlechild.
  5. Read The Song Within My Heart, by David Bouchard and Allen Sapp. Discuss the paintings illustrated in the book, and the teachings.
  6. Discuss and brainstorm as a large group meaningful experiences and learnings/teachings students have experienced with their elders.
  7. Introduce the challenge.

 

Activities

The Challenge

  1. Create a mixed media artwork using watercolours, collage, markers and crayons.
  2. Use words, drawings and photographs to communicate your feelings, stories, and life experiences with elders.
  3. Make connections between colours and your feelings about the elders in your life.
  4. Use size to show space, and contrast to create emphasis in the artwork; and
  5. Demonstrate technical accomplishment and creativity.

The Process

  1. Ensure that everyone understands the challenge.
  2. Establish success criteria with your students, for example;
    - use of colour
    - use of photographs
    - placement and size of photographs
    - contrasting colours
    - paper in good condition
  3. Guide students through the steps outlined in this lesson plan.
  4. Observe students as they work.
  5. Provide individual assistance and encouragement.

Sharing

  1. Once all the artworks are complete ask students to bring their mixed media artworks into a large circle.
  2. Invite each student to share one of their special life experiences with an elder.
  3. Ask students to share how they communicated their feelings about the elders they chose to include in their artworks.
  4. During the circle discussion include references to colour (warm and cool), and their emotions connected to the colours.
  5. Ask students to share how they have created space and used emphasis in their artworks.

Assessment

  1. Observe students as they work – exploring, experimenting, adding detail, thoughtful focus.
  2. Listen to and observe students as they discuss the artworks - attentive listening, insightful contributions.
  3. Use a checklist to track progress (Downloads – Elders_tracking.pdf)
  4. Have students reflect on their own artworks in their sketchbooks. Ask students to write: 
    What worked well in your artwork? Why?
    - What would you change or do differently next time?