PAINTING DREAMS – Medicine Wheel, Spirit, Lines, Space

Students create a mixed media artwork using watercolour paints, a cut out image to represent themselves, and fine black markers to doodle textures and patterns. 

Required Time

120 Minutes

Grade Level

Grade 3 to Grade 8

Subject

Art Techniques
Language Arts
Visual Arts
First Nations, Metis, Inuit

Vocabulary

background collage foreground line matting middle ground pattern space texture

Materials

Photograph of Self or Image to Represent Self Crayola Marker and Watercolour Paper – 22.9 cm x 30.5 cm cm (9” X 12”) White Paper (from a sketchbook or recycled) Crayola Glue Sticks Paint Brushes Paper Towels Small Plastic water containers - 1 per student Drawing Paper 30 cm x 45 cm (12" x 18") Table Salt Fine Line Black Marker Watercolour Paints

Steps

PAINTING DREAMS – Medicine Wheel, Spirit, Lines, Space - Step One

Step One

Begin with a circle and divide it into 4 equal sections. Label each of the quadrants. In the east is spiritual energy (our spirit); in the south is emotional energy (our hearts, our feelings); in the west is physical energy (our bodies, our actions); and in the north is mental energy (our thoughts, our thinking). Focus on the spiritual aspect of human beings. Reflect on your dreams, when you close your eyes and imagine your vision for yourself, what do you see? Draw a dream that you have for yourself, a goal, in the eastern quandrant of the medicine wheel.

PAINTING DREAMS – Medicine Wheel, Spirit, Lines, Space - Step Two

Step Two

Brainstorm words and images connected to the spiritual aspect of your life. Use a variety of shapes to express the spiritual area of your life. Reflect on what you enjoy creating. Express how you imagine your dreams, your goals. What vision do you have for your future? Where do you enjoy spending your time? Where is your favourite place to go to when you are outdoors? What makes your spirit feel alive and happy?

PAINTING DREAMS – Medicine Wheel, Spirit, Lines, Space - Step Three

Step Three

Use a small piece of watercolour paper to experiment with different colours and techniques. Begin by painting the paper with clear water. Dip your brush into water and choose a colour for the foreground, middle ground, and background. Allow the colours to move naturally, bleeding into each other. Add salt to a few areas of your painting and watch how it changes the colours. You can use paper towels to lighten some areas. Try dipping a dry brush into a colour and using it to paint with. How does the dry brush differ from a wet brush?

PAINTING DREAMS – Medicine Wheel, Spirit, Lines, Space - Step Four

Step Four

Use a large piece of watercolour paper to paint your background. Reflect on the colours in your life that are beautiful, peaceful, colours that inspire your imagination. When you close your eyes and imagine your dreams, your goals, a vision of possibilities for your life, what do you see? Paint with colours you love, and create a foreground, middle ground, and background for your dreams. Allow the colours to bleed naturally into each other. Add salt to the sky, and lighten areas with a paper towel.

PAINTING DREAMS – Medicine Wheel, Spirit, Lines, Space - Step Five

Step Five

Reflect on a time when you are creating, or connecting with the natural world. What are your dreams, your goals? Find a photograph of yourself or one from a magazine that represents you, and your vision for yourself, creating, being outdoors, or spending time doing what you love in life. When does your spirit feel alive? Cut around the image and use a variety of coloured pencils to brightly colour the cut out.

PAINTING DREAMS – Medicine Wheel, Spirit, Lines, Space - Step Six

Step Six

Use glue stick to glue the image onto your watercolour painting. Place the image representing yourself in the foreground of the painting.

PAINTING DREAMS – Medicine Wheel, Spirit, Lines, Space - Step Seven

Step Seven

Using a thin black marker draw small shapes and lines, repeat the images to create patterns and a variety of textures. Add repeating contour lines to the human form. Integrate the image representing yourself into the watercolour using the patterns and textures. Listen to instrumental music while you draw, take your time.

PAINTING DREAMS – Medicine Wheel, Spirit, Lines, Space - Step Eight

Step Eight

Complete your watercolour painting by matting it on a solid colour, contrasting your artwork. Write a sentence expressing how your image connects to your spirit.

Learning Goals

Students will be able to:

  1. Paint a foreground, middle ground, and background using watercolour paints;
  2. Communicate their personal understanding of the 'spiritual' aspect represented in the medicine wheel;
  3. Express a dream, a goal, or life experience that makes their spirit feel alive;
  4. Collage a human image to their painting, representing their spiritual aspect; and
  5. Connect the watercolour painting to the human image using lines, textures, and patterns.

Extensions

  1. Have students write a letter to their future selves expressing their life goals, their dreams.
  2. Take students on regular nature walks, to develop connections to their natural environment.
  3. Have students create a collage (from magazines, photographs, and images from the Internet) expressing their dreams, visions for their future.

Prepare

  1. Prior to the lesson download background information about the medicine wheel. The following is a list of helpful links for developing a deeper understanding of the teachings represented by the medicine wheel:
    - Ojibwe/Powawatomi (Anishinabe) Teaching, by Elder: Lillian Pitawanakwat, 2006 (All rights reserved 4D Interactive Inc.) 
    Ojibwe     
  2. Teaching by the Medicine Wheel: An Anishinaabe Framework for Indigenous Education, by: Nicole Bell, 2014 
    Medicine Wheel 
  3. Anishinaabemdaa: Medicine Wheel, by: Little River Band of Ottawa Indians, 2014  
    Anishinaabemowin
  4. Teachings of the Medicine Wheel is a curriculum unit developed by the Ontario Native Literacy Coalition. On the Main Resources page you can download a student and teacher manual.  
    Teachings
  5. If available read The Sacred Tree, by Phil Lane, Jr. et. al., 1989. If not, there is an informative preview of the book at the following link.                       
    Sacred Tree
  6. The following link has an artist statement from Joane Cardinal-Schubert, giving background information about the artist,
    Joane Cardinal-Schubert
  7. Download images from the internet, or find images in art catalogues of Joane Cardinal-Schubert's artworks (Examples: My Mother's Vision, Monarch Resting, Horse Dream)
  8. Download images from the internet, or find images in books or magazines of 'Zentangle'. The following link has a variety of examples:
    Zentangle

Introduction

  1. Introduce the students to the First Nation artist, Joane Cardinal-Schubert.
  2. Share Joane Cardinal-Schubert's paintings, My Mother's Vision, Monarch Resting, and Dream Horse, with the students. Discuss how the artist created space (refer to the foreground, middle ground, and background) in her paintings, and observe how she used colour to create space. Reflect on and discuss the meaning of the images she made in each painting.
  3. Review the different teachings represented by the medicine wheel. Introduce the students to the 4 different aspects (physical, spiritual, mental, and emotional) that are part of each person, and represented by the medicine wheel.
  4. Reflect on each area (physical, spiritual, mental, and emotional) inviting students to share their personal understanding and meaning of each human aspect. The medicine wheel is a symbol teaching us to keep each area healthy and balanced.
  5. Focus on the spiritual aspect. Ask students to imagine what is possible in their lives, what are their dreams, their life goals? Discuss favourite places within our natural world. Ask students what they enjoy creating? What life experiences make their spirit feel alive?
  6. Introduce the challenge.

Activities

The Challenge

  1. Choose words and images connected to life experiences that make your spirit feel alive. Imagine what is possible in your life, what dreams do you have for yourself? Where do you enjoy spending time outdoors? What do you love creating?
  2. Use watercolours to paint a landscape where you feel peace and connection.
  3. Collage a representation of yourself expressing a time when your spirit feels alive (Examples: connecting to the natural world, creating, or dreaming of future possibilities) within the foreground.
  4. Use lines and textures to create patterns, connecting the figure to the landscape.

The Process

  1. After reflecting on the 4 aspects of human beings (physical, emotional, spiritual, and mental) represented by the medicine wheel, ask students to use their sketchbooks to draw a circle and divide it into 4 equal sections.
  2. Label each of the quadrants. In the east is spiritual energy (our spirit); in the south is emotional energy (our hearts, our feelings); in the west is physical energy (our bodies, our actions); and in the north is mental energy (our thoughts, our thinking).
  3. Read The Sacred Tree, Bopp, Bopp, Brown & Lane Jr., 1995.
  4. Explain to students that First Nations communities are diverse and may have different teachings connected to each direction.
  5. Ask students to begin in the eastern quadrant of the medicine wheel with the spiritual aspect of human beings. Ask them to draw images, and include words that express their life dreams, experiences that make their spirit feel alive.
  6. Guide students through the steps outlined in this lesson plan.
  7. Observe students as they work.
  8. Provide individual assistance and encouragement.

Sharing

  1. Once all the artworks are complete ask students to bring their mixed media art pieces into a large circle. Invite each student to share how they have expressed a life experience that makes their spirit feel alive.
  2. During the circle discussion include references to space and the creation of depth (using foreground, midddle ground, and background). Students also share how they have used line and texture to create patterns.
  3. Share life dreams, nature connections, and creations through the arts.

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 (Download - DREAMS_tracking.pdf).
  4. Have students reflect on their own artworks in their sketchbooks. Ask students:
    What worked well in your artwork? Why?
    - What would you change or do differently next time?   
    - Explain what 'spirit' means to you.