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Crystal, Geodes, and Gemstone Collages Inspired by Lorna Simpson

Lorna Simpson is an American photographer and multimedia artist. She was born in 1960 in Brooklyn, New York. Simpson was the first African American woman to have a solo exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1990. Her Earth and Sky collage series features vintage images of women from issues of Jet and Ebony magazines. Lorna Simpson’s artwork often explores the idea of identity. In this particular series, she explores the idea of Black women’s hair, which has been a source of beauty and pride but also, historically, a source of discrimination. Simpson replaces the hair with brilliant swashes of trailing colors and geometric crystal formations, transforming the original collaged images into something new entirely.

Visit Lorna Simpson's website to see more of her artwork.


Today we will create movie star/celebrity portraits

mixed media collages with Crystals, Geodes, and Gemstone drawings

inspired by Lorna Simpson's 2021 Essence magazine cover of Rihana.

What celebrity portrait do you want to create for a magazine cover?


In 2021 Lorna Simpson designed the Rihanna cover for Essence Magazine.

See the Rihana cover here...

This art lesson is based on the iconic Earth and Sky collages by American artist, Lorna Simpson.

Students used a celebrity portrait for the collage and then learned how to draw crystal formations, gems, and geodes. Students finished by creating value in their shading. Shading with value changes helped to make the crystals appear 3D.


Let's create celebrity portraits in the style of Lorna Simpson

You will need basic art supplies.

This art project uses basic art supplies and there is not too much to prep. It's necessary to find pictures of faces, one per student. I like to have many face options available so I print more than I actually need for my class.

This Art Project has a video that shows the process...



Students could take photographs of themselves and this could be a fun self portrait assignment.! Why not use your birthstone to decorate your head and add a personal touch to a self portrait assignment!

My middle school students are currently working on Priceless Gem Self Portraits. I will add a gallery of student art when they finish!

Personalize your self portrait drawings by adding birthstones!


Drawing Practice

Before we begin the lesson my students practice drawing crystals, gemstones, and geodes. I created this practice drawing guide with shading.

I highly recommend taking the time to have students practice drawing crystal formations, jewels, and gemstones before beginning the art project. Students enjoyed these worksheets and they became a handy reference guide for how to draw a variety of precious stones and gems later on in the drawing assignment. It's also important to emphasize shading with value changes. Using shading that has a variety of value changes makes the drawings look more 3D.

Download your copy of how to draw crystals, gems, and geodes drawing practice...

Crystal and Geodes Drawing Practice
Download PDF • 406KB

While students completed the drawing and coloring with value practice sheet I started to spread out celebrity portraits on the floor. When students showed me their finished worksheets they were allowed to select the portrait that they wanted to work with.

These are the celebrity portraits that we used for the art project.

They have been sized to fit 9x12 paper and still have room to draw the gemstones and minerals.

Celebrity photos to PRINT
Download PDF • 30.11MB

Additional Drawing Idea Sheet

I created this idea sheet because I wanted my students to draw an interesting variety of jewels, gem stones, crystal formations, and geodes. Having a variety of stones will make the drawing look more interesting.

Download your Crystal and Geodes Idea Sheet here...

Crystal and Geodes Idea Sheet
Download PDF • 614KB


This art lesson was also taught online. If you are looking for super fun online art classes for you or your child...Art Club meets up once a week on Zoom live from Vancouver, Canada and Washington DC. We also have an online classroom with so many more art lessons, most available with videos. Join us live Monday nights. Link to Art Club for more info.


- Celebrity Portraits -

Featuring Crystal, Geodes, and Gemstones

mixed media collages Inspired by Lorna Simpson


Tsophia, Grade 5

Sara, Grade 5

ChanaRisya, Grade 4

Bina, Grade 5

Ayala, Grade 5

Aviva, Grade 7

Amira, Grade 2

Lauren, Grade 2

Sanjana, Grade 5

Violet, Grade 5

Reporters from World Watch News. By, Gabe, Ava, and Tessa, Art Club


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