Monday, July 22, 2013

2013 Tactile Paintings

This is one of my favorite lessons and one of the few that I repeat with my 2nd graders each year. (See the 2011 post here, 2012 post here.) The students learn about the late Andy Lakey, "Painter for the Blind", and his tactile paintings. The students consider how we use our senses to experience art before using sand to make a touchable painting with lots of texture.
I made an Instructional Resource for one of my graduate classes for this lesson which I used to introduce the artist and concepts to my students and will share below in case you find it helpful in your classroom.
In past years, I have asked students to make nonobjective designs. This year I gave more choices and some students used the sand to make a hidden message- a design or words that would be hard to see but the viewer could feel. The students used crayon to plan their designs before tracing with bottled glue, covering with a sprinkling of sand, and dumping the excess back into the sand container.

In the second class period, the students paint. The last two years, I have limited the students to either a warm or cool color palette to help them achieve color harmony. This year, I talked to the students about warm and cool colors, but allowed them to choose their own color palette. I just figured there can be beauty in unexpected choices and I didn't need to limit them to my adult aesthetic.
Some students use their sand lines as divisions, changing colors where the shape changes or outlining the sand at the end.
Some students tried using the sand to make a picture or hidden message.

While the paintings may not be as harmonized as in previous years, I think this was more valuable overall. The students got to try different combinations and see what would happen! I think that letting the students make their own discoveries is a more authentic kind of learning than me solving the harmony problem for them.


  1. These are really cool! great texture lesson! Thanks for sharing this! :)

  2. I agree with your decision to discuss color choices but then to let them choose their own. Sometimes it seems like art programs can be more product driven than process so I say bravo for putting the learning ahead of the more controlled pleasing outcomes. And it looks like they turned out great too!

  3. Great idea.
    A picture book that would go well with this and could spark more innovation from students is: Lucy's Picture by Nicola Moon.
    Synopsis: Lucy wants to make a picture for her grandpa, but she doesn't want to use the brightly coloured paints with the rest of the children. Lucy's grandpa is blind, so Lucy makes him a very special picture with twigs, feather, velvet and sand - a picture he can feel with his fingers.This heart-warming story about a little girl's imagination and the love between grandchild and grandparent is perfect for sharing with young children.

    1. That book is going on my wish list! Sounds great, thanks!

  4. So cool! Also that book suggestion sounds great. Thanks for sharing :)