Past and Future Hands: High School Mixed Media Art Project - Communicate Through Art

These past and future hands are an excellent way for students to learn how to communicate through visual art.

I saw this art therapy activity on Pinterest and decided to create a version that asked students to use memories from their past and hopes for their future to create art with meaning. The goal was for them to create two distinct pieces of art using a range of mixed media techniques creating texture, balance and unity in their pieces.

Using mixed media is an excellent way to explore the use of texture in art. Similar to Amie's metal tooling project using implied texture for younger students, my students also learned to use texture, both tactile and implied.

Purchase Past and Future Hands Lesson at A Space to Create Art on TpT

Here are the basics:

  • Medium - Mixed Media - Watercolor paint and collage.
  • Project Length - 8 days
  • Grades - 7-12
  • Objectives
    • Explore mixed media techniques including a tape transfer, eraser stamps, tissue paper bleed and watercolor paint on various surfaces.
    • Created both implied and tactile texture in their pieces.
    • Effectively communicated a unique mood or visual story in each hand.
    • The two hands looked like they were created by the same artist. (artistic voice.)
  • Materials - Watercolor Paint, Watercolor Brushes, Water, 2 sheets of heavy weight Watercolor paper large enough for hands, Palettes, Old books, Magazines, Art Gum Erasers, Carving Tools, Clear Shipping Tape, Matte Medium (or water/glue mixture), Fabric, Thread, Needles, Scissors, Older square brushes to use for matte medium or glue, Cups, Plastic bags to hold materials, buttons, stamp pads, Bleeding Tissue Paper.
  • Techniques: 
    • Tape Transfer:
      • Using clear shipping tape cover a printed photo or magazine image. Use as many strips of tape as you need to cover what  you'd like to transfer.
      • Cut out and soak in warm water for 5 minutes, longer for thicker paper.
      • Remove from water and rub off the paper on the back side of the tape.
      • If done correctly, the image will transfer to the tape giving a transparent glossy effect.
    • Art Gum Eraser Stamps:
      • Using art gum erasers and wood carving tools create shapes to use to use as stamps. The part that you cut away will remain white, the part of the eraser that is left will become the stamp.
    • Tissue Paper Bleed:
      • Using tissue paper you can create interesting color bleeds by placing tissue onto surface and dropping water onto the tissue. Once dry, remove the tissue paper and color will remain.
      • You can also drop water onto a few layers of tissue paper, once dry it will leave a line design where the water dried. Cut out the design and glue to your surface.
    • Watercolor on different surfaces:
      • Using your graphic organizer choose a few scenes or objects that represent your memories.
      • Choose a written, blank or illustrated page of an old book, lightly draw your scene/object then paint using watercolor.
      • Cut or tear out and glue to your surface.

I always put up a board at the front of my room with the steps of the assignment. It really helps students stay on track and know what to do next. Here is the board I used for this project:

Here’s some more photos of the process and finished art:

This is the basic process that I used with my students:


My students did amazing work on this project and they created some beautiful and meaningful artwork with texture, unity and balance.  Click on the image below to go to the full resource!


Have fun creating with your students!