Colorful Creatures- A lesson plan

Xochipilli’s Ecstatic Universe, 2004. Tino Rodriguez (American, born Mexico, 1965). Oil on panel, 20 x 16 in. Crocker Art Museum purchase with contributions from Barbara and William Hyland, Monterey, California, and the George and Bea Gibson Fund, 2006.44.

About the Artist

A 1995 graduate of the San Francisco Art Institute, Tino Rodriguez draws upon the literature and mythology of diverse cultures in creating his lush, hypnotic imagery. He aims to inspire us with visual beauty and the freedom to accept the beauty of difference. In much of his art, Rodriguez explores themes of metamorphosis and transformation.

In Aztec mythology, Xochipilli is the prince of flowers and the god of beauty, song, and dance. The artist includes a self portrait in the guise of this ecstatic deity, but he also appears as a dual creature, at once male and female, a presentation in which Rodriguez offers homage to the legendary Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. The swan, humming birds, butterflies, Egyptian sphinx, and infant Buddha recapitulate the artist’s theme of transformation in exquisite vignettes throughout the composition. The otherworldly garden that these small icons inhabit is intended as sanctuary for the soul. Rodriguez introduces us to a world rich in pleasure that not only touches our senses but alters our perceptions.



Today we’re going on a hunt! We’ll be hunting for creepy creatures hiding in artworks then catching them on our paper later. 

Show Xochipilli’s Ecstatic Universe. What do you see in this painting? Bugs? Name some bugs and creatures they see. 

Tell students that we will be creating our own mixed material artworks with creepy crawly creatures. We’re going to use lines, shapes and colors to create our creatures. 



Have each student tell you what creature they’re going to draw; as they tell you, give them their paper and let them go to the tables to work. Have someone pass out pencils as you do so.We’re going to use three different materials today.

  1. First, we’ll use pencil to sketch. Remind them of what a sketch is.Students will start with a piece of paper and a sketching pencil. The first thing they should do is write their name on their back. Guide Students to decide on and sketch the shape of their animal. Students will begin by sketching out the shape of their animal. Remind them to go big
  2. When our sketch is done, we’re going to use oil pastels. Show them oil pastels. Has anyone ever used these before? Talk about their attributes. The oil pastels are only to color our creature. Encourage them to use white, as the watercolor will resist when applied. Demo if necessary. Then, using only cool colored oil pastels, they will color in their creature. They can use warm colored pastels for the background when they have finished coloring in their creature.
  3. For the background, we’ll be using watercolor. Talk about watercolor. When everyone is done coloring their creature with pastels, we’ll use watercolor on the background. With the watercolors, they will color in the background using warm colors

Clean-up and share

  1. Clean up. Ask students to clean up and return all materials. Their artwork should remain at their desk for the “gallery walk” to conclude the lesson.
  2. Class and/or table group discussion. What did we learn? What was challenging? What felt familiar? Shoutouts to helpful neighbors?
  3. “Gallery walk”. Students will leave their artwork at their desk to be previewed by their classmates. (If they do not want to share, offer to turn over work). Invite students to line up behind you with their arms behind their backs. Discuss museum manners (hands to self, positive remarks). Slowly “snake” around the table groups so students may view the work of their peers.

Extension: Create “picture frames” for the artwork. Students can divide their paper int0 4 sections to create 4 bugs. The frame will have 4 sections to view the work.



Identify, sort and classify objects by attribute and identify objects that do not belong to a particular group. (K, Algebra and Functions, 1.0)

Students identify common objects in their environment and describe geometric features. (K-2, Measurement and Geometry, 2.0)

Identify, describe and extend simple patterns by referring to their shapes, sizes and colors. (K, Statistics, Data Analysis and Probability, 1.2)

Sort objects and create and describe patterns by numbers, shapes, sizes, rhythms or colors. (1, Statistics, Data Analysis and Probability, 2.0) 

Determine the approach, materials, and strategies to be used. (K-3, Mathematical Reasoning, 1.1)

Explain the reasoning used with concrete objects and/or pictorial representations (K, Mathematical Reasoning, 2.1)

History – Social Science

Students compare and contrast the locations of people, places and environments and describe their characteristics. (K.4)


Properties of materials can be observed, measured, and predicted. As a basis for understanding the concept: Students know objects can be described in terms of materials they are made of (e.g. clay, cloth, paper) and their physical properties (e.g., color, size, shape, weight, texture, flexibility, attraction to magnets, floating, sinking.) (K,1.a) 

Different types of plants and animals inhabit the earth. As a basis of understanding this concept: students know how to observe and describe similarities and differences in the appearance and behavior of plants and animals (e.g., seed-bearing plants, birds, fish, insects). (K,2.a) 

Describe properties of common objects, describe relative position of objects by using one reference, and communicate observations orally and through drawings. (K, 4.b,c,e)


Creating – Anchor Standard 3: Refine and Complete Artistic Work

PK.VA:Cr3 Share and talk about personal artwork

K.VA:Cr3 Explain the process of making art while creating

1.VA:Cr3 Use art vocabulary to describe choices while creating art.

2.VA:Cr3 Discuss and reflect with peers about choices made in creating artwork

3.VA:Cr3 Discuss, reflect, and add details to enhance an artwork’s emerging meaning

4.VA:Cr3 Revise artwork in progress on the basis of insights gained through peer discussion

5.VA:Cr3 Use art vocabulary to describe personal choices in artmaking and in creating artist statements.


  • Watercolor paper
  • Oil Pastels
  • Dry Watercolors in palettes
  • Paint Brushes
  • Paper towels
  • Water Cups
  • Pencils


90 minutes

Grade Level



  • Science
  • Visual Art


  • Latinx Artists
  • Local Artists
  • Painting


  • Watercolor Paint


Mallorie Marsh, adapted by Brittany Thurman