You will need:

  • Brown Craft Paper
  • Pencil
  • Black Sharpie® marker
  • Tempera Paints
  • Paint Brush
color Amate painting depicting bird and sun

1. If you are getting your craft paper from a roll of paper cut off a large piece at least 12” x 16” or so. You can also hand rip the edges so that they are uneven in order to look more like bark, like the original Amate paintings.

illustration of how to sketch out an Amate painting

2. Amate paintings were created in Mexico originally to communicate. Today Mexican people paint birds and plants as colorful, decorative Folk Art. Objects are drawn to make a pattern on the paper. It would be helpful to collect some good reference material on the birds and plants you want to draw.

Select one or two birds as the main focus of the drawing. Using a pencil, draw plants and possibly smaller birds that can be placed in a wallpaper-like pattern around the main bird(s). When designing your bird and plants it’s important to simplify a texture or pattern of the bird or plant and then use that as a repeat pattern. You can see this in the body, wing and tail of the bird in the illustration. Another pattern or border can then be drawn around your whole design.

3. After you have pencilled in your wallpaper-like design, trace over all pencil lines with a black Sharpie® marker. Use at least a medium point marker and get every detail.

4. Now you can begin to paint. Remember, it’s not about making the bird a realistic color. It’s all about making the whole painting very colorful. This bird and the plants only exist in your mind and now on this paper. Folk Art is a decorative, colorful design. And don’t forget that white is a wonderful color that pops off the brown craft paper page.

illustration of tracing over pencilled lines with a Sharpie on Amate painting sketch