Miss Rumphius Paint Project

Created by My Art to Inspire Contributor: Jeanne

Book:  Miss Rumphius, by Barbara Cooney.

This project came about when I was helping with a wall mural at my school. A local artist volunteered her time and thus happened to be there when I was talking about a watercolor lesson I was going to give my young students. She added an element that really turned it into a work of art for each of them.

The importance of the story should not be overlooked—the book is worth buying, no matter what age you or the people you work with are. Miss Rumphius ends up beautifying the world almost accidentally, since something she does causes the lovely flowers, lupines, to spread throughout her community. This story would be therapeutic all by itself, but this is a companion art project. (And by the way, picture books are NOT just for little ones!)

White art paper at least 9” x 12”; water color paints and brushes; pencils/erasers. Tempra or finger paints in lavender, pink, and blue. Mounting paper.

1. Guide students to lightly sketch some leafy plants and stems. Show them how to use wet on wet and wet on dry techniques (in mostly greens and yellow greens) to give the feel of garden foliage. Be sure they have an odd (3 or 5) number of “stronger” stems in varying heights, because these will be the focal point flowers. Don’t let them overdo or get their painting muddy.

2. When that is dry, put out the three colors of finger paints and demonstrate how to use their fingertips to apply the blooms that make up the flowers. (To see photos of real lupines, just Google free stock photos.)

3. Mount the finished artwork; I prefer black since it really makes the flowers pop out.

Note, I am thinking that older students could get very creative and make beautiful cards using this same technique.

 *Jeanne is a pseudonym for a special guest blogger.  Find more about her here.