NEW: Sugar Skull
Sugar Skulls are an important part of Mexico’s Day of the Dead celebrations.
Easy Peasy Level:
Beginner or Intermediate
- Drawing – Drawing a Mexican style Sugar Skull.
- Celebrations and Other Cultures
- Patterns and Symmetry
- Painting – Colour mixing and brush technique.
In this artwork we are inspired by Mexico’s Day of The Dead and the Sugar Skulls that are used as part of the Celebrations. In this artwork, we turn something that is normally seen as spooky into something that is colourful and beautiful. This lesson is suitable for both beginners or intermediate as it can be made simpler or more complex depending on your level of skill.
You will need:
- White paper – The larger the better! The larger your paper the easier it will be to add detail.
- Black oil pastels or crayons to draw with.
- Poster paints – lots of bright colours.
- Paint brushes. You may also need some smaller brushes for the smaller details.
- Water container
- Craft glue
- Paint shirts or aprons
- Table cover or newspaper to protect work surface.
- An area for your artwork to dry.
Easy Peasy Tips:
- Use a large sheet of paper to draw on. You will have trouble with smaller details using an oil pastel or crayon.
- Turn your oil pastel every now and then to keep the line thin.
- Artworks that use patterns and details look best when you concentrate on neatness. Try really hard to make sure your lines meet up without overlap.
- In this artwork we use symmetry. What ever we do on one side, we do on the other!
- Be inspired to add your own details to your sugar skull. Just remember the main ideas of symmetry and neatness.
For The Teacher:
- The most valuable learning opportunity in this artwork involves allowing the students to have the freedom to experiment with colours and painting. Painting lessons can be a little nerve wracking at times and so we tend to keep a tight grip. The best outcomes from the students will come when we learn to let go a little and allow the freedom to choose the colours they wish and how they have mixed them.
- Use this as an opportunity to discuss with the students their successes with colour and also what they would do differently in the future.
- This is also a great lesson to learn a little about other cultures and how we can be inspired in our art making. Show students images of Day of the Dead celebrations and sugar skulls. Discuss their use on the day and also how the day focuses on the remembrance of family members.
Creating Your Artwork:
Place your paper portrait style.
- Drawing The Skull: In the middle of your page, draw two medium sized circles with your oil pastel and then colour them black.
- To draw the nose, draw an upside down love heart and another inside of it. Colour the smaller one black.
- For the top of the skull draw a large arc. Begin in line with the nose and then draw up over the eyes and back down again. Think of a scoop of ice-cream shape! Try and use most of your page. You will need lots of space for the patterns inside of the skull.
- Now draw the jaw as shown.
- To draw the teeth, begin by drawing 5 lines under the nose. Draw the longest line in the middle and shorter ones on the side as shown.
- Join the tops of the teeth with frown shaped lines and the bottom with smile shaped lines.
- Extend the lines on the end of the teeth to complete the jaw.
- Drawing The Patterns: Carefully draw small petals around each eye as shown. Don’t forget to add the detail in the middle of each petal.
- Draw another large flower in the middle of the forehead and half a flower on the bottom of the jaw as shown.
- Draw two more half flowers on each side of the skull. Remember that we are using symmetry in this artwork so try and keep them the same size and in the same spot on each side. Complete this step by adding the leaves.
- Complete the patterns by adding smaller details. Add some swirls to fill spaces, dots in the middle of the flowers and small circles in empty spaces such as on the jaw.
- Use the side of your oil pastel or crayon to lightly shade around the outside of the skull to add shadow/tone to the artwork.
- Painting: Prepare your materials for painting.
- Carefully paint your skull using bright colours. You can even mix your own! You will need to use smaller brushes for some of the smaller patterns on your skull. To help with small details, keep your brush pointing straight up and down, if you paint with a brush laying down, your brush will be much thicker and it will be harder to paint small details.
- Once you have completed your skull and background set you skull aside to dry.
- Decorating: Once your skull is dry, you may like to decorate it further. Carefully draw with squeezable craft glue on the background and then sprinkle with glitter. You will then need to set your artwork aside to dry overnight. Once dry your artwork will be complete.
What do you like about your artwork? What would you do differently next time?
- For more advanced students, use black markers to draw the skulls. Students can search online for sugar skull images and create their own designs.
- Another option for the background is to cut out the skulls after painting and then glue on coloured paper or card.
- If you liked this spooky artwork, why not try one of our Halloween themed lessons.