Medieval Gargoyles & Grotesques

Author: Christine Palmer
Year: 2020
Artform: Visual Art
Subjects: Social Studies
Grade: 6th Grade

Students will learn about the history of Gargoyles and Grotesques, particularly in the Middle Ages and create a unique gargoyle of their own.



For Clay Gargoyles:

  • Crayola Model Magic (white) approximately ½ oz. per student
  • Toothpick or stylus for adding details
  • Watercolors & Brushes- Black only
Download PDF Lesson Plan

Standards & Objectives

Fine Art Standards
Integrated Standards

Standard 6.V.CR.3:

I can demonstrate openness in trying new ideas, materials, methods, and approaches in making works of art and design.

Social Studies Standard 6.SS.2:

I can understand the transformation of cultures during the Middle Ages and the impact of this transformation on modern times.

Teaching and Timeline


Social Studies Content: A Brief History of Gargoyles


Background Information (Also contained in Gargoyles & Grotesques Slide Show) :

  • The word gargoyle comes from the French gargouille, meaning “throat.”
  • Gargoyles began appearing on churches throughout Europe in the 13th century but can be traced back to Ancient Egypt!
  • Gargoyles served as decorative water spouts, to keep rainwater flowing outward from rooftops and preserve the stone walls.
  • They also stood guard to ward off unwanted spirits and other creatures.
  • A grotesque is a gargoyle without the water spout.
  • Gargoyles and grotesques are created to fight off evil and offer protection for your house, garden, or other special place.
  • They are meant to be hideous and frightening to scare off all sorts of things!

Work Period

Visual Art Studio Activity: Creating Gargoyles

Option 1: Trading Card Gargoyle- Colored Pencils

  1. Each student needs the following:

*It is a fun change of pace for students to work small sometimes and can be stored in trading card holders if desired.

2. Have students decide whether they will be making a gargoyle (with water spout) or a grotesque (without water spout) and WHAT they would like it to keep away!

3. Students can look at gargoyles and grotesques for inspiration but not trace directly.

4. Draw first with pencil, then color with colored pencils.

5. Add areas of light and dark (shading) to add depth.

6. Color the gargoyle using light layers of color on top of each other to create new colors or different values (light and dark areas).

Important drawing tip: Always color “light as a feather” instead of “caveman hard” when shading or layering colors!



Option 2: Tiny (Air-Dry) Clay Gargoyle- Crayola Model Magic

1. Each student needs the following:

2. Students can separate clay into smaller pieces to make it easier to build parts of the body or wings.


  • Middle Ages: The Period of European history between the fall of the Roman Empire and the beginning of the Renaissance (about 500-1500 AD)
  • Medieval: An adjective that refers to people places, things, and events of the Middle Ages
  • Shading: Adding lights and darks to create the illusion of depth
  • Layering: Adding different colors on top of each other to create other colors, values, or interest

To make gargoyle look “antiqued”…

  • Wait a day or two for gargoyle to dry, otherwise the water will wash away some of your details.
  • Have a paper towel handy. *A wet paper towel can help wipe away any spots that get too dark.
  • Using black watercolors (and start watery because you can always go darker), brush a light wash of black over your gargoyle.
  • Wipe away any spots that are too dark.
  • Let dry.


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