José Parlá For Older Children

silhouette of mural

Amistad América


José Parlá

American, born 1973

Subject: Line and pattern

Activity: Scratchboard drawings

Materials: Scratchboard (or make your own!); tools to scratch the surface, like pencils, pens, toothpicks, spoons, or forks

Vocabulary: Line, pattern, texture


People who live in big cities use posters and walls to promote community events, advertise their business, or leave their mark in graffiti. The history of a city and the people who live there can be seen in the many layers on the walls. José Parlá is inspired by the walls and posters he sees in big cities like Austin. This mural was created by laying paint and collaging posters onto the wall. To create some of the textures, the artist scratched into paint. 


What tools do you think the artist used to make this mural?

Do you see a repeating line or texture?

How is this similar to graffiti art you’ve seen outside? 


Make your own scratchboard by taking a thick piece of card stock or poster board and coloring it with crayons or makers. When finished, brush a thin layer of black paint over the colors. A tip: mixing dish soap with the black paint makes it go on smoother and chip less.

Use the pointed tools to scratch a drawing into your scratchboard. Think of new ways to draw lines and create texture. What textures can you make with unusual tools like a spoon? Can you create a 3D version of your name? 

Look again

Can you recreate some of the lines and textures from the mural on your scratchboard? 


Line - A straight or curved mark made with a drawing tool

Pattern - A repeating line, shape, or color

Texture - A rough or smooth look to the surface