Get Creative at Home: Make Colorful Rubbings from Cool Textures

High Museum of Art
Mar 18, 2020 · 2 min read

Spending time at home with kids? The High is here with art-making activities to try together.

By Melissa Katzin, Family Programs Manager, High Museum of Art

Painting by Max Ernst featuring a hybrid creature that looks like a serpent and a bird.
Max Ernst (French, born Germany, 1891–1976), Tree of Life, 1928, oil on canvas.

German artist Max Ernst was part of the Surrealist movement, which began in the 1920s. Surrealist artists were interested in illustrating dreams and reality. They worked in different styles, used different media and materials, and represented many different subjects in their art. Hear from the High’s Frances B. Bunzl Family Curator of European Art, Claudia Einecke, to learn about the animals depicted in Tree of Life:

Video Credit: Kwesi Jones

This large painting, Tree of Life, was made with oil paint on canvas, but the artist also used another technique to create the work — frottage.

By using frottage, Ernst added layered textures throughout his painting.

Frottage (pronounced fro-tahj) is the process of taking a rubbing from a textured surface. Ernst began using the frottage technique when he was stuck in a hotel on a rainy afternoon — he noticed the uneven wooden floor and used a pencil to transfer the texture onto a piece of paper.

Look closely at the dark, circular object at the bottom right of the painting, near the tail of the creature. What object do you think Ernst could have used to create that texture?

Use the frottage technique to create your own work of art!

Get Creative at Home

Find a piece of paper and a crayon — take the wrapper off the crayon to make it easier to create your rubbing.

Leaf textures come through from rubbing colors over top of a piece paper with leaves underneath.
Leaf textures come through from rubbing colors over top of a piece paper with leaves underneath.
An example of frottage created with leaves. Image from Creative Call Morocco.

Then, find flat, hard objects in or around your home — try looking for leaves outside, tiles in your bathroom, or anything else that has an interesting texture.

Place a piece of paper on top of the object, and then use the side of the crayon to create your rubbing.

Experiment with different colors and textures on the same piece of paper.

Share your creations on Instagram and tag #museumfromhome and #HighMuseumatHome — we can’t wait to see!

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