RESPECT – Seven Grandfather Teachings, Cree Artist Jane Ash Poitras

Students use watercolour pencils and paint to create a mixed media monoprint. Then they reflect on, and write about their relationship to the plant world focusing on respect.

 

 

Required Time

180 Minutes

Grade Level

Grade 1 to Grade 8

Subject

Language Arts
Science
Visual Arts
First Nations, Metis, Inuit

Vocabulary

background cool colours emphasize foreground middle ground monoprint space texture viewfinder warm colours

Materials

Water Containers Drawing Board or Clip Board White Paper (from a sketchbook or recycled) Pencils Black Bristol Board Found Objects Such as Leaves that are not attached to a Living Plant Black Acrylic Paint Watercolour Pencils Paint Brushes Markers Watercolour Paper Scissors

Steps

RESPECT – Seven Grandfather Teachings, Cree Artist Jane Ash Poitras - Step One

Step One

  1. Choose an area outside with interesting plant growth.
  2. Find a natural space with a variety of plants that you would enjoy drawing.
  3. Use a view finder (black Bristol board with a rectangular shape cut out of the centre) to frame your natural space.
RESPECT – Seven Grandfather Teachings, Cree Artist Jane Ash Poitras - Step Two

Step Two

  1. Begin with a flat board (clip board) and a rectangular piece of watercolour paper.
  2. Choose a variety of watercolours.
  3. Use warmer colours in the foreground and cooler colours in the background.
  4. Observe closely, and draw the shapes and colours of the plants you see.
RESPECT – Seven Grandfather Teachings, Cree Artist Jane Ash Poitras - Step Three

Step Three

  1. Fill your watercolour paper with colour, trying your best to draw what you see in the natural world.
RESPECT – Seven Grandfather Teachings, Cree Artist Jane Ash Poitras - Step Four

Step Four

  1. When you have finished drawing, use a container of water and a paint brush to brush water over your drawing changing it into a watercolour painting.
  2. Dip your brush in water each time you paint a new area of your drawing. 
RESPECT – Seven Grandfather Teachings, Cree Artist Jane Ash Poitras - Step Five

Step Five

  1. Paint the entire drawing, allowing some colours to flow into each other.
  2. Make sure your painting is dry before beginning the next step.
RESPECT – Seven Grandfather Teachings, Cree Artist Jane Ash Poitras - Step Six

Step Six

  1. Find a leaf on the ground that you are curious about, make sure it is not attached to a living plant.
  2. Do not take any leaves or plant parts that are still alive, and connected to roots.
  3. Thank the plant whose leaf you have found on the ground.
  4. Place the leaf on a recycled piece of paper and paint one side of the leaf with black acrylic paint.
RESPECT – Seven Grandfather Teachings, Cree Artist Jane Ash Poitras - Step Seven

Step Seven

  1. Carefully lay the painted side of the leaf onto your watercolour painting, and delicately press the painted leaf onto the painting.
RESPECT – Seven Grandfather Teachings, Cree Artist Jane Ash Poitras - Step Eight

Step Eight

  1. Slowly and carefully pull the leaf off your watercolour painting.
  2. Make sure you do not touch the black print left by the leaf.
  3. Allow the monoprint to dry before beginning the next step.
RESPECT – Seven Grandfather Teachings, Cree Artist Jane Ash Poitras - Step Nine

Step Nine

  1. After your monoprint is dry, closely observe the leaf or plant you used to make the print. 
  2. Use a fine line black marker to add detail to the print (e.g., the pattern of lines in the individual leaves).
RESPECT – Seven Grandfather Teachings, Cree Artist Jane Ash Poitras - Step Ten

Step Ten

  1. Create a mind map to brainstorm the word 'respect'.
  2. Make connections to the Seven Grandfather Teachings, the plant world, and your own life experiences.
  3. Research the plant or leaf you used in your monoprint.
    - Identify the plant.
    - Is it edible?
    - Where can the plant be found?
    - What conditions does it need to grow?
RESPECT – Seven Grandfather Teachings, Cree Artist Jane Ash Poitras - Step Eleven

Step Eleven

  1. Use a larger piece of white paper to mat your artwork.
  2. Glue or tape your monoprint to the larger paper.
  3. Close your eyes and reflect on the word 'respect', remembering the connections you have just made in your mind map, and the discoveries you have learned about the plant you chose.
  4. Use a fine line black to marker to write your thoughts and feelings around your artwork, framing your watercolour print with your reflections.
RESPECT – Seven Grandfather Teachings, Cree Artist Jane Ash Poitras - Step Twelve

Step Twelve

  1. Share your artwork, knowledge, and new understandings about the plant you chose with your classmates.

Learning Goals

Students will be able to:

  1. Use watercolour pencils to paint a scene of a natural outdoor area containing a variety of plant life;
  2. Use a variety of warm and cool colours to create a foreground and background in the watercolour painting;
  3. Create a monoprint using a found leaf that is not part of a living, growing plant;
  4. Use words and images to communicate respect, one of the 7 Grandfather teachings, between plants and humans;
  5. Reflect on why the relationship between plants and humans is important; and
  6. Demonstrate technical accomplishment and creativity.

Extensions

Have students:

  1. Go for a hike during each of the seasons, and reflect on the changes that are occurring. Create an artwork documenting one specific area during each season.
  2. Do further research about the indigenous plants in their area, identify the plants and discover how the plants can be used to benefit other living things.
  3. Connect the 7 Grandfather teachings to other living things in their environment, and write about the relationships they see.

Prepare

  1. Prior to this lesson download images from the Internet, or find images in books or magazines of animals connected to the Grandfather teaching, 'respect'. For example,
    Buffalo
    Herd
    Watering Hole
    Calf
  2. Explore the Anishnaabeg Bimaadiziwin: An Ojibwe Peoples Resource, website from Georgian College, to deepen your understanding of the 7 Grandfather teachings, use the following link, 
    7 Grandfather Teachings
  3. Download images from the internet, or find images in books or magazines of Jane Ash Poitras' artwork, Buffalo Heirophony (1992). The following link has images of the artwork,
    Jane Ash Poitras 
  4. Discuss the images, and what the buffalo, when plentiful, meant to the people who lived on the land, in terms of their survival and well being.
  5. Download the Traditonal Teachings Handbook in pdf form, from the Native Women's Centre. This booklet will provide background information for the teacher on the 7 Grandfather Teachings from the perspective of the authors. It is available at the following link,
    Booklet
  6. Download the following pdf and read about the Seven Sacred Teachings, Niizhwaaswi gagiikwewin, by David Bouchard & Dr. Joseph Martin, paintings by Kristy Cameron,
    Seven Sacred Teachings
  7. This pdf and or video will give you background knowledge about the 7 Grandfather teachings from the perspective of the writers,
    Video
  8. This second link is based on the Seven Sacred Teachings from a child's perspective,
    Child's View
  9. The paintings and writings about the Seven Sacred Teachings can be shared with the students. Make sure students understand who wrote the teachings and where they are from. First Nations Peoples from different communities will have different understandings and perspectives on the 7 Grandfather teachings.
  10. Download The Seven Grandfather Teachings, by Rabbit and Bear Paws,
    Rabbit and Bear Paws
  11. The Seven Grandfather Teachings, by Rabbit and Bear Paws can be shared and reflected on daily (one teaching each day) with the students.

Introduction

  1. Introduce students to the artist, Jane Ash Poitras (an artist, who was born Cree in Fort Chipewyan, Alberta). View and discuss Buffalo Heirophony (1992) , focusing on the meaning of the images she uses, and discussing the importance of the buffalo to the survival of the people. Explore her use of drawing, photography, and writing/words.
    What is the artist communicating?
    - How is the buffalo connected to respect?
  2. Introduce the 7 Grandfathers' teachings and the meaning of each human quality.
  3. Have a class discussion about the Grandfather teaching, respect, and how it is connected to the natural world, especially plants. Ask students to share an example from their own life in which they have made connections to the Grandfather teaching, respect.

Activities

The Challenge

  1. Use watercolour pencils to paint a scene of a natural outdoor area containing a variety of plant life.
  2. Use a variety of warm and cool colours to create a foreground and background in the watercolour painting.
  3. Create a monoprint using a found leaf that is not part of a living, growing plant.
  4. Use words and images to communicate respect, one of the 7 Grandfather teachings, between plants and humans.
  5. Reflect on why the relationship between plants and humans is important.
  6. Demonstrate technical accomplishment and creativity.

The Process

  1. Ensure that everyone understands the challenge.
  2. Establish success criteria with your students, for example;
    - words communicate the meaning of respect                                                                                                                                  
    - watercolour painting is inspired from an outdoor area with a variety of plants                                                                                  
    - images and words identify and deepen ones understanding of the leaf/plant chosen                                                                                 
    - warm and cool colours are used to create a background and foreground in the watercolour painting                                           
    - monoprint of the leaf/plant is carefully made
  3. Guide students through the steps outlined in this lesson.
  4. Observe students as they work.
  5. Provide individual assistance and encouragement.
  6. When students have completed their artworks, ask them to reflect on the plants, words and images they have chosen to represent the Grandfather teaching, respect.
  7. Ask students to write about their personal connections between the plant they chose and the meaning of respect.

Sharing

  1. Once all the artworks and reflections are complete ask students to bring their artworks into a large circle. Invite each student to share her/his artwork.
  2. During the circle discussion include references to colours, space, texture/line, and emphasis.
  3. Share personal understandings of the relationship between plants, humans, and respect.

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 - Respect_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?                                                                                                                                                    
    - What does the Grandfather teaching, respect, mean to you?