COLLAGE COWS ~ Inspired by Elizabeth St Hilaire. Year 5/6 art lesson.

Our school was doing a “Discover Dairy” inquiry unit and so we were making lots of artworks of cows! The inspiration for this lesson was from “paper paintings” of cows by Elizabeth St Hilaire (Nelson)

“Paper Paintings” by Elizabeth St Hilaire

The students looked at some St Hilaire’s “paper painted” cows and inferred the techniques and materials they think she used.

We watched a couple of videos with Elizabeth St Hilaire talking about her materials and showing the techniques she uses.

The students then chose a photo of a chosen breed of cow to crop to a square to use for a reference to make a realistic drawing and get the shape and colouring right.

They drew a grid on the photo (digitally) then ruled up a larger piece of paper to enlarge each part of the drawing of the cow’s head.

Next they used the photo as a reference to mix paints to match to do an underpainting and make some painted paper.

The painted paper was used to collage over the “underpainting”

We took 4-5 one hour lessons to complete and evaluate the artworks. Full lesson plan with learning intentions, success criteria, lesson activities with process, useful video links and students self evaluation rubric, all linked to Victorian Curriculum to purchase below.

AUTUMN BIRCH TREES: Elizabeth St Hilaire inspired – Year 5/6 art lesson

Painted paper collages of ‘Fall’ birch trees by Elizabeth St Hilaire were the inspiration for these mixed media artworks by Year 5 students. The process we used was different than that of St Hilaire, though I got the students to suggest what materials and techniques they think were used by her.

Elizabeth St Hilaire was born and raised in New England, USA and has lived in Florida for more than 20 years. She makes collages from painted, found and hand made papers, which she tears and collages to make her amazing textured and patterned artworks of landscapes, trees, animals, flowers, birds and portraits. St Hilaire does an underpainting first then uses swatches of painted and found paper in matching colours to glue over the top, giving her work a painterly finish, with the texture of a collage. We used a different process, painting the collaged newspaper after it was stuck down. For this project we looked at her Autumn (Fall) Birch trees for inspiration.

Learning Intention & Success Criteria:

To make a mixed media artwork of Autumn birch trees in the style of Elizabet St Hilaire.

I will learn about artist Elizabeth St Hilaire and view her artworks of Autumn (Birch) trees and how she shows texture and perspective in her artworks.

I am learning about PERSPECTIVE and TEXTURE so I can use collage and painting techniques to resemble  Birch tree trunks.

I can tear and glue down overlapped newspaper to cover a piece of A3 paper.

I will use masking tape to make some trunks thin, some thicker to give the illusion of depth and perspective. I can use scraped and dabbed black paint to give texture. I can choose and blend colours and emphasize texture in the Autumn background.

I can analyse artworks by Elizabeth St Hilaire by noting materials, process and elements of art.

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First of all students look at the Birch tree artworks by Elizabeth St Hilaire to infer the materials and techniques. For example: Materials: paint, paper: newspaper, sheet music, painted paper, glue, etc. Techniques: tearing, overlapping, gluing, painting, collage, outlining, etc.

This is a video of an interview with St. Hilaire explaining her process and collage techniques: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-9obDq-QLtA  and this one: “A peek into my Process”: demonstrates how she goes about an artwork.


Elizabeth St Hilaire: “A peek into My Process” – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R69zzS9Ok3E

Our Process: (different from St Hilaire)

Collage the entire page with torn newspaper. Brush over with ‘Modge Podge.’

Use masking tape of varying widths to make the tree trunks from top to bottom of the page with some thin branches off the side.

Use Autumn colours to paint the background- could be in layers or mixed all over.

Use a thin brush to paint black paint along the edges of the tree trunks. Using the edge/side of a card, scrape paint inwards along the edges of the trunks to give tone and texture of a birch tree trunk.

Students evaluate their work with a rubric: