AiA Lesson Highlight – 2-4 Nelly Mae Rowe, Stormey Weather

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Nellie Mae Rowe was born in 1900, one of nine daughters to a former slave. She spent her entire life in rural Georgia near Atlanta and worked as a maid most of her life.  Rowe’s work is considered Folk Art because she was self-taught and her work represents the lifestyles and traditions of the deep South. She is best known for brightly colored and whimsical drawings that represented events from her daily life and nightly dreams. She also made art for herself, not to sell, from whatever materials were at hand.


The medium Rowe uses for Stormey Weather is oil on canvas. The painting is called Stormey Weather because it tells the story of a scary, stormy night in Rowe’s childhood. She imagined small animals to be hiding from the rain and thunder in a large tree. The use of both warm and cool colors also adds to the mood of the picture. The warm colors, like pink and orange add excitement and danger. The cool colors, like blue and green, remind us of the dark, wet feeling of a storm. There are also several different viewpoints in the painting. The small animals are shown from a side profile while the bird’s nest is seen from above.



In this Art In Action lesson, students will embrace the Folk Art style by coloring small animals and using cool and warm colors. Students will also learn to mimic Rowe’s use of organic designs and jagged lines to represent parts of nature. The organic designs are the natural shapes of plants and animals, and they give unity to a picture. The jagged lines in Stormey Weather show lightning in the storm and the curved lines look like blue rivers. By mixing up the use of different kinds of lines, students will also learn composition and how to better represent parts of nature.




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