AZTEC, INCAN and MAYAN MOTIFS ... Lead to Distinctive Designs

Article excerpt


Students will...

1. expand their knowledge regarding cultural diversity.

2. learn how to unify a design derived from multiple motifs.

3. gain movement and focal-point awareness.

4. apply sequential work progression.

5. learn and utilize overlapping principles.

6. learn and utilize textural pen techniques.

Working in cooperation with an across-the-curriculum philosophy, this lesson tied in well with my school's social studies department's seventh-grade unit on Central and South American Indians. This project was especially fitting, as it adapts historic art in an art lesson for today's children.

After researching the Incan, Aztec and Mayan Indian materials in our school's media center, copies were made of each student's favorite motifs. From the copies, the students chose the subjects they wanted to incorporate into their two-dimensional designs. They were fascinated with the numerous uses of snakes, dogs, headdresses, feathers, bones and bold jewelry that were found in the art of these particular cultures.

The objective of the drawing was to create a unified, balanced and pleasing composition using a minimum of three motifs. The composition also required the use of layering and the rendering of a variety of pen-and-ink textural techniques for emphasis.

The process of the lesson was to draw the designs with pencil and then outline over the pencil with black markers. Finally, the students needed to fill in the visually desirable areas with positive, negative and textural spaces.

Utilizing only earthy colors, the students chose from medium brown, medium gray or rust 9" x 12" construction paper. Students were instructed to do large drawings, because they would later be outlining over the pencil with fine-line black markers. Drawing lightly, so as to not leave pencil-point impressions on any areas they might later erase and rework, the students chose the design they wanted to most dominate the composition.

Next, other motifs were added using overlapping principles. The students were encouraged to let portions of the design flow off the paper, if necessary. …