Introduction to this Stone Soup Art Activity

For the artist, every workplace is a separate world with its own unique environment of light, sound, smell, and activity, and each picture is a story in line, shape, and maybe color that tells about that special place.

The seven-year-old artist from Sri Lanka who painted the picture on the front cover did an excellent job of telling the story of a unique world she has seen, but that we may never see — the world of a tea plantation.

Look at how she creates her picture world. She shows us the geography: the hills surrounding the plantation. She shows us the weather: clouds over the hills and a blue sky above. She shows us how the tea plants are arranged in rows, and she shows us the building that is a part of every tea plantation, the building where the tea leaves are sorted, fermented, and prepared for shipping to the world’s tea drinkers.

In the middle of this scene she shows us a woman picking tea. She appears to be a young woman and has long hair. She is wearing a blue blouse, a red polka-dotted dress called a sort, and silver bracelets on both wrists.

On her back she carries a large basket filled with tea leaves. The basket is undoubtedly heavy and the work is hard.

Project 1: Working Outdoors

Make a picture of someone working outdoors. You might make a picture of a gardener, a coach for soccer or baseball, someone building a building or working on a road, or a telephone repair crew. Sometimes you may work outdoors too, for instance, if you rake leaves, clear snow, or mow lawns.

Through your picture tell as complete a story of the workplace as possible. Tell your story so that someone from another country who doesn’t know anything about the place you live, or about the people who work there, will understand what you have seen.

Remember to show what type of clothing the workers are wearing, and, if they are using tools, include them in your picture.

Project 2: Working Indoors

Make a picture of someone working indoors. That might be someone in an office, or a store, at your school, or in a factory. Or it might be a picture of you or one of your parents working around the house.

The interior of a building has a very different feel from a place outside. Instead of the sky, there is a ceiling. Instead of the sun, there are electric lights. Instead of trees and plants growing in the ground, there are (maybe) plants in pots.

As with your outdoor picture, remember to show what the people look like, what type of clothes they are wearing, and what tools they use, if any, at their job.

Harvesting Tea, by Achinda Siriwardena, age 7, Sri Lanka

Harvesting Tea, by Achinda Siriwardena, age 7, Sri Lanka

About the Author

In 1973, I was twenty years old, teaching children's art classes at my college, the University of California, Santa Cruz, and came up with the idea that the best way to encourage children to write was to introduce them to the best writing by their peers. Stone Soup grew out of that idea, and I have continued to publish Stone Soup for all these years.
I am also a culinary historian. I write about traditional foodways. My book, "The Magic of Fire," is about hearth cooking. My book, "Bread, a global history," speaks for itself. I am currently writing a bread history for a University Press. I publish articles on gardening and traditional foodways at Mother Earth News. I also publish on wild mushrooms and other food-related subjects.

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