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Folk Art for Teens


Young teens observe folk art and create some of their own, imitating the style of Paul Zelinsky's illustrations in the book Swamp Angel.
  • Reading Is Fundamental, written by Sue McCleaf Nespeca and Joan Reeve
  • Arts and Crafts
    • 9-12
    • teen
  • Multiple
  • Indoor
  • Play

Materials: Swamp Angel, written by Anne Isaacs; illustrated by Paul Zelinsky Wood pieces (various shapes and types) Ready-made oil paints Palettes for mixing oils Paint brushes Sandpaper Rags and turpentine to clean up.

Time Required: 60-95 minutes

Set up Make available various types and shapes of wood. Make sure wood is smooth for painting-either sand it or have teens do this to experience the process. Supply various colors of oil paint. Cover the work surface with large sheets of newsprint or butcher paper. Directions First, share the book Swamp Angel with your child. Mention that this book won a Caldecott Honor Medal for Illustration. Explain the style of painting used as folk art. Discuss how folk art is considered primitive, or unsophisticated, art and expresses traditions passed from generation to generation. You may also mention tole painting, tinplate, and other forms of folk art. Show teens works by folk painters such as Edward Hicks and Ammi Phillips at the Web sites mentioned below. Zelinksy studied these painters to reproduce American primitive paintings accurately. In his book, Zelinsky used oils on various types of wood veneers (cherry, maple, and birch) to achieve a primitive style. Compare the Zelinksy book with Jim Aylesworths The Folks in the Valley: A Pennsylvania Dutch ABC, in which illustrator Stefano Vitale also painted on wood. Now have teens choose a piece of wood and use sandpaper to smooth the surface (if not already done). Ask teens to create their own folk art, deciding on which types of oil to use, how many layers to add, and what image to paint. You may also want to: Help gather wood samples for their teens to reduce expenses; Challenge teens to locate other examples of painting on wood; Discuss folk art and see if they have any examples in their home; Try to remember American tall tales and share them or make up their own tall tales. Swamp Angel is a wonderful example of a tall tale to get the family started. Relate memories of a particularly interesting family vacation and see if they can twist the story to make up their own tall tale. Community Connection Have teens explore stores, gift shops, or antique stores looking for examples of folk art. If in a more rural area, can they find any painted barns or other examples of folk art on buildings? Contact a local carpenter to talk to the teens about working with wood, and a local house painter to discuss oil paints. Perhaps a senior citizen from a local retirement center can tell tales from his or her earlier experiences. Adaptations Read some tall tales (see resources below) and have teens illustrate their own versions of a tall tale in any medium they desire.

Related Resources Web Sites: For information on other folk artists that influenced Zelinsky, see: Edward Hicks: http://www.nga.gov/cgi-bin/psearch?Request=A> Grandma Moses: http://www.csupomona.edu/~plin/women2/moses.html Books Other examples of picture book folk art: Aylesworth, Jim. The Folks in the Valley: A Pennsylvania Dutch ABC. HarperCollins, 1992. Stefano Vitale, Illustrator. Goble, Paul. Buffalo Woman. Simon Schuster, 1984. Hall, Donald. The Ox-Cart Man. Viking, 1979. Barbara Cooney, Illustrator. Examples of Oil Paintings by Paul Zelinsky: Isaacs, Anne. The Swamp Angel. Dutton, 1994. Paul Zelinsky, Illustrator. Lesser, Rika, reteller. Hansel and Gretal. Paul Zelinsky, Illustrator. Zelinsky, Paul, reteller. Rapunzel. Dutton, 1997. Zelinsky, Paul, reteller. Rumpelstiltskin. Dutton, 1986. Tall Tales: Glass, Andrew. Folks Call Me Appleseed John. Doubleday, 1995. Gleeson, Brian. Pecos Bill. Rabbit Ears, 1988. Hodges, Margaret. The True Tale of Johnny Appleseed. Holiday, 1997. Isaacs, Anne. Swamp Angel. Dutton, 1994. Kellogg, Steven. Johnny Appleseed. Morrow, 1988. Kellogg, Steven. Mike Fink. Morrow, 1992. Kellogg, Steven. Pecos Bill. Morrow, 1986. Kellogg, Steven. Sally Ann Thunder Ann Whirlwind Crockett. Morrow, 1995. Lester, Julius. John Henry. Dial, 1994. Small, Terry. The Legend of Pecos Bill. Bantam, 1992. Walker, Paul Robert. Big Men, Big Country. Harcourt Brace, 1993. Wood, Audrey. The Bunyans. Blue Sky, 1996.

Folk Art for Teens