Sunday, June 5, 2011

2nd Grade Tactile Paintings- Andy Lakey

This is a loooong post.  I understand if you just look at the pictures. :) I started this blog as kind of a digital, visual journal of my teaching experiences so that I could reflect on how everything is going.  When I don't have to be formal, I write how I think.  My 6 month old son (who is teething) is in bed so I'm doing a little blogging before I head that way.  Side note, I start my first Masters course tomorrow (Creative Photography)!  Anyway, enjoy the beautiful artwork by my students.

I am just a little bit proud of this project.  The students and I both enjoyed the process and I could have posted a photo of every single project.  The heavens aligned and everything turned out great!  A couple of years ago, I picked up a freebie book at the KAEA conference- veteran teachers clean out their rooms and bring books and supplies for the scavengers (students and beginning teachers) to look through.  The book is called Andy Lakey: Art, Angels, and Miracles.  I noticed that the cover photo had a really cool texture.  I grabbed the book, put it on the book shelf at school and kind of forgot about it until a student who had finished her project early, showed it to me and asked if we could do a project about like that.  

I read through the book to learn more about the artist on one of our work days back in February.  Here is my best attempt at a brief summary: Andy Lakey was addicted to drugs, overdosed, and says that he encountered angels when he almost died.  He started making drawings of the angel figures that he saw and felt he was supposed to become an artist and share the message they gave him.  He taught himself how to paint and quit his job.  He had a happy accident when he combined two different kinds of paint and found that it could be used to create texture.  His paintings started getting picked up by galleries and he donates a big chunk of his work to charities.  His paintings can be experienced by people with visual impairments because they are meant to be touched.  The paintings are in high demand from hospitals and schools for the blind.  Some call Andy Lakey the painter for the blind.

I showed the students pictures of the work in the book and focused more on texture and the painter for the blind part than the angels.  Now that I think of it, I never even mentioned angels or any of the spiritual part to the students.  Maybe I should have since it is the biggest part of the artist's motivation but I avoid mentioning anything about spirituality at school.  (I had a parent email me that her kids couldn't participate in the clay skull project for Days of the Dead!)

Anyway, to introduce the project, I asked the students
How could you experience a painting if you couldn't see it?
After a minute or so, someone said you could touch it!  We went ahead and talked about the other senses.  Could you smell a painting? Maybe.  Hear it?  Taste it?  Yuck!  Then I told the students that we were going to be making paintings that were meant to be touched just like Andy Lakey does.  

While the students wrote their names on their papers, I passed around my example and asked the students to close their eyes and touch the painting to experience the texture.  To actually get started on the project, I reminded the students of one of Andy Lakey's paintings we looked at that was made up of lines and shapes, no pictures OF something.  I gave the students about 2 minutes to draw line and shape designs on their construction paper with crayon.  I told them the color of the crayon didn't matter because it was going to be covered up in the next step.  When their time was up, I showed the students how to trace over their lines with bottled glue and use the secret ingredient to create texture- SAND!  I bought a big bag of play sand last year for just a few dollars and I love using it at school.  I put a cup of sand at each table and the students sprinkled it over their wet glue.  Extra sand was dumped back in the cup and we used a little dust pan to clean off the tables.  Wet sand pictures went on the drying rack until the next class.

At the beginning of the second class, we reviewed warm and cool colors.  I told the students that they were going to pick either warm or cool colors to use for their paintings.  I had the students raise their hands to show me which color scheme they wanted to use then split them up into warm and cool tables (I also put out black and white at each table).  By asking the students to choose a color scheme before I told them they were probably not going to be in their assigned seats for the day, I think I avoided students choosing a table just because their friends were there instead of the colors they really wanted to use.  It worked really well to have the paint separated at the different tables- the students didn't get confused and use the wrong colors and their paintings automatically had color harmony.  The students painted right over the sand pictures with liquid tempera until no plain paper showed through.  

When I had students who had missed the first class, we worked backwards.  They painted first then stopped a few minutes early, drizzled glue, and sprinkled with sand.  I really like the results both ways.

Supplies Used
Construction Paper
Bottled Glue
Play Sand
Tempera Paint
Paint Brushes

Andy Lakey websites


  1. Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous!! I would have believed it if you had said you were posting your OWN artwork, so 2nd grade, wow! Any one of these would look great on my living room wall! I'm saving this lesson. Thanks!

  2. These are so tactile and beautiful. I did read the whole post, even though I sometimes skip posts with a lot of text! I'd like to try this one day - thanks for the ideas.

  3. LOVE THESE! I love your "overarching question" here, too....a great way to really hook your students and make them feel a "part" of their work! This is a huge component to the National Board Portfolio, and one that I strive to achieve (sometimes with NO success) on every project.

    I'm definitely doing this next year, maybe adding some "softer" texture to it, as well (maybe yarn on top or something?). I love how each project turned out differently.

    Great inspiration! THANKS!

  4. What an fantastic post! I am looking forward to becoming more familiar with the work of Andy Lakey. Your students' artwork is beautiful! I love the lines and bold forms of color. I'd love to try this sometime. Thanks!

  5. As much as I really like the project and the results(2nd grade!#***?!Wow), one of the things that struck me was where you got the idea. Picking up that book at your state conference was something we all do, but don't necessarily follow through with ever using it. For veteran art teachers to bring those books to "freecycle" to younger art teachers is so cool. I am in this life of teaching for 35 years and lately all I can think about is sharing what I have learned, created and saved with the new art teachers in my school district. Call it my legacy if you will. Thanks for sharing such great ideas.

  6. Terrific! Love this project. What tremendous results! Did the kids paint over the glue-sand or around it?

  7. Most painted over the sand (like I asked them to) but some painted around. :)