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Montgomery Museum of Fine Art

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Category: Education

Backyard Botanical Art

This bi-weekly livestream is an evolution of the Museum’s Botanical Art Workshop that traditionally takes place in the John and Joyce Caddell Sculpture Garden. Through the MMFA’s Instagram account, Assistant Curator of Education Laura Bocquin shares the basics of botanical art that you can accomplish in your own backyard.

Click here to follow the Museum on Instagram.

Upcoming Sessions

Summer Succulents

Saturday, August 1
9:30-10:30 AM

As the heat continues to rise, Laura will demonstrate how to draw and paint plants that flourish in such conditions: succulents, focusing on accurate shape and lush colors. This art demo will also include some tips on how to help these desert plants survive, so get your watercolors ready and let’s have some educational fun!

Materials: watercolor paper, 3M painters tape, pencil and eraser, watercolor paints and paintbrush, water cup, paper towel, and a technical pen

July 4, 2020

Class Title: Flowers and Fireworks

Materials: canvas board, acrylic paints, palette, paintbrushes, water cup, paper towel

June 20, 2020

Class Title: Draw What You See

Materials used: drawing paper, pencil, eraser, and colored pencils

May 23, 2020

Class Title: In Full Bloom

Materials used: watercolor paper, 3M blue painters tape, pencil and eraser, watercolor paints and paintbrushes, cup for water, and paper towel.

May 9, 2020

Class Title: Fun With Color

Laura demonstrates how to enhance a drawing using colored pencils to create the illusion of depth.

Materials used: pencil, eraser, colored pencils, and paper.

April 25, 2020

Class Title: Looking Closely, Take Two

Laura demonstrates how to use drawn lines and painted color gradation to create the impression of curving leaves and petals.

Materials used: watercolor paper, pencil, colored pencils, ultra-fine pen, watercolor paints and paintbrushes, palette, and water.

April 11, 2020

Class Title: Looking Closely

For the introductory livestream, Larua shared the basics of botanical art that can be accomplished in your very own backyard.

Materials used: pencils, ultra-fine pen, watercolor paints and paintbrushes, palette, and water.

Share Your Work

We would love to see your creations! Share your work with us by taking a photograph and emailing it to us at

Home Studio: From Pieces to Patterns

Begin by viewing the selected quilts and engage in discussion comparing the quilts (design, color, pattern, materials, etc)—giving the opportunity to connect to the quilts through analysis. When compared, how are the quilts similar; how are they different? Finish the discussion with concepts of traditional and contemporary quilting (pattern, symmetrical, asymmetrical, applique).

Click here to browse the Museum’s textile collection.

From left to right: Odell Valentine (American, 1925–2013), Lone Star, ca. 1985, polyester and cotton, Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts Association Purchase, 2004.21.23; Bessie Hood (American, 1908–2012), Checkerboard/ Strips and Bars, ca. 1980, cotton, cotton/polyester blend, polyester, and wool, Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts Association Purchase, 2004.21.4; Nora Ezell (American, 1919–2007), Nora’s Necktie Flower Garden, 1994, polyester, cotton/polyester blend, plastic and wood beads, and cowrie shells, Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, Gift of Kempf Hogan in honor of Bethine Whitney, 2005.9.2


To plan, design, and create original paper-quilt-collages inspired by quilts from the MMFA’s collection, and to engage new audiences with traditional and contemporary concepts of quilting.


  • Pencils
  • Paper
  • Scissors (optional)
  • Construction paper and/or Patterned paper
  • Glue sticks


  • Applique – A technique when fabric shapes are cut and sewn onto a fabric block or quilt top.
  • Asymmetrical – A balance in design that lacks symmetry (does not create a mirror image when a line is put down the middle), but still maintains visual balance.
  • Block Patterns – One of the earliest quilt designs, made by sewing together squares; popular because of how quickly this could be assembled and also popular because labor could be divided among multiple people in the community.
  • Color – A basic element of art that is an identifiable quality of an object (such as red, blue, yellow) as it is perceived by the human eye, produced when light is reflected off an object to the eye.
  • Design – A plan for the organization of formal elements in a work of art.
  • Lone Star – A traditional quilt design in which the repetition of single diamond shapes are arranged in concentric circles.
  • Pattern – A repeated design.
  • Quilt – Layers of fabric sewn together, typically applied in a decorative design. Can be used as blankets or hung on walls as ornamental art.
  • Symmetrical – A balance in design achieved by arranging elements on either side of the center of a composition to create a mirror image.


  • Design: Sift through the paper choices, cut out or tear different shapes and strips, and then begin experimenting with arrangements on the larger paper you intend to use as the base of your collage.
  • Rearrange: We recommended trying several different arrangements using various colors of paper and making distinctly different patterns, to find what you like the most!
  • Glue: After layering and rearranging the papers into the desired design, use a glue stick to adhere the collage pieces onto the larger base paper.


Discuss your original collage-quilt-creations as a group (as few or many as that may safely be!), sharing about why you executed specific designs and chose certain patterns. Additionally, a great way to display paper quilt collages can be hanging them together, to create a large quilt-like form, made up from many smaller paper quilt collages. We would love to see your displays!

Submit Your Work

We would love to see your creations! Share your work with us by taking a photograph and emailing it to us at

Home Studio: Real-World Color Wheel

Our first activity explores the relationship of colors, both in art and the world around us. Engaging in a basic discussion about the color wheel and how it is made is a great way to begin this project! If you do not have a color wheel at home, you can look one up online. Listed at the end of this post are some links for reference, if needed. The three primary colors are yellow, red, and blue. These hues are called the primary colors because they cannot be made from other colors, but they are used to make all other colors. When you mix two primary colors together, you get a secondary color. The secondary colors are orange (red+yellow), green (blue+yellow), and violet/purple (red+blue). Tertiary colors are created when you combine a little more of one primary color than the other after mixing a secondary color. For example, if you make orange and then add a little more red to it, it becomes a red-orange. The tertiary colors are red-orange, yellow-orange, yellow-green, blue-green, blue-violet, and red-violet.


An introduction to the fundamentals of color theory through the creation of a color wheel using objects from around the house and the wilderness of your own backyard.


  • Paper
  • Markers/colored pencils/crayons (whatever is available!)
  • Collected materials from nature
  • Collected materials from around the house
  • Magazines
  • Scissors
  • Glue


  • Analogous colors – Groups of three colors next to each other on the color wheel.
  • Color wheel – A visual tool used to show the relationship between colors.
  • Complementary colors – Colors that are opposite from each other on the color wheel (red and green, blue and orange, purple and yellow), that create high contrast when placed next to each other and therefore make each other stand out.
  • Cool colors – Purple, Blue, and Green; Colors that evoke a sense of coldness.
  • Hue – Another name for color.
  • Monochromatic – The use of only one color.
  • Primary colors – Red, Yellow, and Blue; The colors that are used to make all other colors.
  • Secondary colors – Green, Purple, and Orange; The colors made when two primary colors mix.
  • Shade – A darker value of a color, made by adding black to the color.
  • Tertiary colors – Red-Orange, Yellow-Orange, Yellow-Green, Blue-Green, Red-Violet, Blue-Violet; Colors made by adding a little more of one primary color to a secondary color after it is mixed.
  • Tint – A lighter value of a color, made by adding white to the color.
  • Value – The lightness or darkness of a color.
  • Warm colors – Red, Orange, Yellow; Colors that evoke a sense of warmth.


  • Color: After the basic color wheel discussion, pick out each primary and secondary color from your drawing materials (markers/crayons/colored pencils). Begin by using the primary colors (yellow, red, blue) to create shapes of your choice at the points of an imagined triangle.
  • Next, use each secondary color (orange, green, purple) to create three more shapes, making sure to place each color between the two primary colors that mix to make it.
    Red + Yellow = Orange
    Yellow + Blue = Green
    Red + Blue = Purple
  • Gather: After the basic color wheel is in place on the paper, it’s time to be adventurous! Hunt around the house, collecting things that are allowed to be glued down, like old buttons, bottle caps, or even a Barbie shoe missing its match–the options are endless! If some fresh air is needed, venture outside and continue the search, trying to find something to represent every color from the color wheel.
  • Cut: If you are missing objects to represent particular colors, search through old magazines to find a variety of tints and shades of colors. A color wheel with hues representing a range of values will be more balanced and visually appealing!
  • Organize and Glue: Organize all objects by hue, then begin gluing them near or on the coordinating color on the color wheel. Start with cut out pieces from magazines, then work through gluing the found objects from home and yard.


Use the completed color wheel to further the discussion of color theory. Colors opposite each other on the color wheel are called complementary colors. Colors near each other on the color wheel are called analogous colors (such as red, red-orange, and orange), and can be used to create a bold visual impact. Monochromatic color schemes utilize tints and shades of only one hue, also with great impact. Certain color groupings can be used together to evoke specific moods or feelings (warm colors are red, orange, and yellow; cool colors are purple, blue, and green).

Submit Your Work

We would love to see your creations! Share your work with us by taking a photograph and emailing it to us at

Additional Resources

A Gift that Sparks the Imagination

The Museum is thrilled to introduce its latest permanent installation in the John and Joyce Caddell Sculpture Garden to the River Region. The Children’s Gate (2019) is a gift of the City of Montgomery in honor of the Montgomery art community.

This brightly-colored work of art was crafted by Montgomery-based artist Vincent Buwalda (American, born 1965). Situated between the Sculpture Garden and the Education Courtyard, the Gate consists of playful robots welded from steel. Buwalda’s inventive design will spark the imagination of people of all ages, encouraging all who enter the Education Courtyard to unleash their own creativity.

Mayor Todd Strange and the Museum initiated the commission to celebrate local artists with the permanent placement of a work of art in the Garden. The Sculpture Garden Committee unanimously selected Buwalda’s design from the call for proposals put forth by the Museum and the Montgomery Business Committee on the Arts.

On Thursday, June 6, Mayor Todd Strange and the Museum’s Director Angie Dodson presented the Gate to local children, Museum supporters, the Sculpture Garden Committee, the Montgomery Business Committee on the Arts, and members of the media.

Vincent Buwalda, (American, born 1965), The Children’s Gate, 2019, urethane paint on welded steel, Gift of the City of Montgomery, Todd Strange, Mayor, 2019.6

Our Work in the Schools

2017–2018 School Year

The close of the school year marks two milestones for the Museum—a successful first year of Becoming Alabama: A Cultural Legacy, a tour for Montgomery Public School fifth graders designed to celebrate the bicentennial of Alabama, and the fifth year of the Learning Through Art: Artist in Residence Program weekly art classes at Wares Ferry Road Elementary School. Both engage students in creating and responding to art while making important cross-curricular connections.

Becoming Alabama explores the narrative of Alabama history through art in the Museum’s galleries and creative activities. Learning Through Art incorporates student-led discussion and writing about art along with creating. A teacher at Wares Ferry, whose classroom is impacted by the program, recently encouraged the Museum to “continue to integrate art in all schools for tracking critical thinking skills.”

Teachers, for more information, please contact Kaci Norman at

Learning Through Art is funded in part by a grant from the Central Alabama Community Foundation.

Memorable Moments in November

As fall transitions into winter, the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts’ calendar heats up with free tours, classes, films, and other captivating events. Throughout the month of November, we are hosting entertaining activities for our community. Below is a preview of what you can expect.


Let Hans Grohs inspire your Halloween Decor

Are you looking for something fun, creative, and educational to do but don’t have time to book an MMFA studio class?

Many of the Education Department’s DIY projects are on our Pinterest page! These are great at-home projects that you can do with your child or your friends using regular household items. Our Hans Grohs-themed project below ties into our exhibition now on view, Hans Grohs and the Dance of Death.  Your spooky cat or pumpkin will be a great addition to your Halloween celebrations!

Visit our Pinterest page to get step-by-step instructions!

“Volunteer Voices” Part II

The Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts has lots of wonderful volunteers and docents who donate countless hours to a variety of programs year in and year out.  In the first “Volunteer Voices” blog post, volunteers and docents answered the question  “What drew you to the museum to share your time and energy?” We received so many wonderful answers, we decided to continue the blog posts and create a series. This second installment of “Volunteer Voices” is dedicated to the question  “Do you have a favorite or most rewarding moment with visitors of the museum?”

Take a look at some of the responses from Docents and Volunteers below on their favorite or most rewarding moments at the MMFA, and leave some of your own in the comments!


“When the Uribe exhibit was here recently, I captured several people and took them to see the exhibit.  They thanked me profusely.  The same is true for other exhibits.”  Frances Durr, Docent


“Several years ago I was giving a gallery tour to a 1st grade class and right before they were to leave the entire class gave me hugs!!!” George Jacobsen, Docent (featured right)


“I have had lots of great conversations with visitors about lots of different exhibits.”  Meili Wang, First Impressions Desk


“I enjoy seeing children learn.” Penny Thompson, Docent


“The kindergarteners’ insightful observations, seeing the excitement as they explore a piece of art for the first time.” Frank Gitschier, Docent, After a Cakewalk gallery tour (featured right)


“I get a lot of satisfaction out of helping visitors that come into the museum.  If I can provide information that enhances their visit I have done my job.”  George Childress, First Impressions Desk


“Any time a kid walks into the museum.” Liz Land, Docent (featured below)


“I like it all. The best part of volunteering for the museum is working with staff and other volunteers to help the patrons have a good experience when they visit.”  Luigi Edwards, Special Events Volunteer




We look forward to your stories and the next installment of “Volunteer Voices” very soon!

Meg Hall
Volunteer Coordinator

DIY Holiday Tree Sculpture!


Looking for a craft project for your young ones this holiday season?

Follow these step by step directions to make your own holiday tree sculpture. If you feel inspired, please sign up for our Holidays in the Studio, where we will instruct you in making more seasonal art projects!

Supply Needs:

Blog.Holiday Craft Step 1

various shades of green felt, cut into simple leaf shapes
dowel rod glued to the wooden scraps to make a stand
paper cone cup
various sequins
small yellow foam triangles
hot glue gun and appropriate glue stick;
tacky glue.
If you do not have dowel rods or wooden scraps, the tree can be made even simpler using just the cone cup with no stand!

Blog.Holiday Craft Step 2


Step 1.

Place a large glob of hot glue on top of the dowel rod stand and quickly push the paper cup into place.


Blog.Holiday Craft Step 3







Step 2.

Blog.Holiday Craft Step 4

Begin the first layer of felt towards the bottom of the cup.

Add hot glue to the cup before pressing on each felt piece, overlapping slightly so that none of the bottom of the cup shows.




Blog.Holiday Craft Step 6

Step 3.

Add the second layer of felt pieces in the same manner, working from the top point of the cup, overlapping down onto the already placed bottom layer of felt.



Blog.Holiday Craft Step 7


Step 4.

Add dabs of tacky glue wherever desired on your tree; then press on the sequins of your choice as decoration.




Step 5.

Call Out Project Tree

Use tacky glue to glue the triangle pieces together to resemble a star, then glue into place on the tree.








Project variations: Use a pre-made star if desired! If you would rather the tree be natural with no ornament decoration, glue on small white craft pom poms as snow!  Please be sure to join us for Holidays in the Studio for more crafting fun.

Laura Bocquin


Korean–Language Gallery Talk: Connecting to American History through Art

KoreanTalk.Blog.2On September 17, MMFA Docent Jiyeon Suh led a dynamic Korean-language gallery talk in the exhibition Journey Through the Collection: Docent Choices.  She focused on a section of the exhibition called Remembering the Past, which includes art that addresses American history from the Native American experience to the Civil Rights Movement.  I was lucky enough to be a participant and occasionally heard an English phrase such as “Manifest Destiny” or “flappers” which gave me a sense of the conversation.  At the end I asked Jiyeon, “Did you mention Kevin Costner?” and a few other questions . . .
“What is something about American history as represented in the exhibition that you find particularly interesting?”
Jiyeon: “At the beginning of the gallery talk, I introduced the idea that learning about the major conflicts that define American history helps to understand the social and cultural shifts in this country’s relatively brief history.  We looked at representations of the Civil War, First World War, and Second World War during the gallery talk.  Korean audiences can follow the timeline of American history easily because there are many close relationships to our national history.”   
“What connections to popular culture did you make in the galleries to help people understand the works of art?”
J: “While we were looking at a painting of Plains Indians beside a portrait of a Confederate Solider, I talked about Dances with Wolves, since native cultures and the Civil War are at the heart of the movie.  We also examined works from the 20s and 30s,  and I made connections to The Great Gatsby, which is very well-known in Korea, and a more recent Korean film, Assassination, which is set in 1933.”
“What is your message to your friends about enjoying the Museum?”
J: “The Museum is a wonderful gift to all of the families in Montgomery.  I love the people I meet at the Museum, connecting with my fellow volunteers, and the passion for art here!
With a Korean audience, I like to emphasize that by learning more about American art, history, literature, music, movies, and current issues we can better relate to our children and help them with everything they are studying in school.  It also gives us fun topics to discuss at home! “KoreanTalk.Blog
Many people are looking forward to hearing more from Jiyeon and her perspective on American culture in Journey Through the Collection very soon. 
– Alice Novak, Curator, with Jiyeon Suh

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