Art Lesson Ideas on Volcanoes

Updated April 17, 2017

Volcanic eruptions can be inspirational to artists of every order. The events seem impossibly dynamic. The colours, movements and varying states of matter are inspirational and educational for art students. Although they learn about volcanoes in science class and probably carry out the science class standard -- a vinegar and baking soda eruption display -- art teachers, too, can integrate volcanoes into lessons.

Traditional Projects

Many standard art projects can be tailored to incorporate volcano iconography -- sketching, painting and sculpting. Consider using watercolour paints. The lightness and translucence will be perfect for depicting hot gas and ash and can be layered and intensified for lava floes.

Mixed-Media Projects

One aspect of volcanoes that can translate into an art assignment is the occurrence of matter in multiple states. A dormant volcano seems to be only solid, but eruptions spew forth liquid magma and bursts of hot gas and ash. Encourage students to create a mixed-media art piece depicting a volcano. For example, young artists could illustrate a volcano, paint lava with liquid paint, sketch in ash with charcoal, glue on pieces of crystal or marbles to indicate cooling lava and affix crumbled tissue to be the hot lava fire balls.

Melted "Glass"

Another aspect of volcanoes students will recognise is the cooling of liquid magma into solid glasslike obsidian. Direct a project in which students create a similar process by melting pieces of hardy candy in an oven and then let it cool to become "glass." Educators can line baking trays with parchment paper and let students choose from a variety of "geological" components, selecting various types of crushed hard candy to arrange in a small pile on the sheet. Crush up candies of different colours and opacities. Once the candy lava has cooled, kids can eat it or incorporate it into a mixed-media art project. Also, consider using cookie dough or clay to create frames for the lava. Let each student make a narrow frame to contain their lava floes.

Looking for Art in Unusual Places

Volcanoes can look like ordinary mountains until they become active. Design a project in which students depict something that appears one way at first glance but has a whole other life upon further review. For example, a student can paint a tree, but instead of leaves the tree can be bare and surrounded by a swarm of butterflies. Mixed-media resources can be included for additional depth.

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About the Author

Grace Riley has been a writer and photographer since 2005, with work appearing in magazines and newspapers such as the "Arkansas Democrat-Gazette." She has also worked as a school teacher and in public relations and polling analysis for political campaigns. Riley holds Bachelor of Arts degrees in American studies, political science and history, all from the University of Arkansas.