Saturday, April 28, 2012

Linoleum Reduction Print Lesson

They're finished! Watching these reduction prints develop has been fascinating. This is a project that just doesn't seem to "look right" for most of the process; but then, the last layer of ink is applied, and all of a sudden, the image comes together.

For those who may be unfamiliar with a reduction print, here is an outline of the process we used in this lesson.

Preparatory work:
1. Students chose an image using photographic resources. They were encouraged to seek high-contrast images with interesting textures, simple backgrounds, and unique compositions.
2. After creating a sketch in the exact scale of their final print, the drawing was flipped upside down and transferred to Easy-Cut linoleum (if you scribble on the back of the sketch, the graphite transfers easily to the block's surface). We re-traced the image in permanent marker.
3. Students chose 4-5 colors and colored in their original sketch on paper to map out their layers.

Reduction printing:
1. Ink the uncarved block with your lightest color. Pull five identical prints (actually... it is a very good idea to pull extra prints in case one of them doesn't turn out in a later step).
2. Wash your block. Referring to your sketch, use a gouge tool to carve away any area you wish to remain the original color that you printed.
3. Print your second color, making sure that you register (align) the block perfectly to your original print.
4. Repeat, carving away the areas that will remain as color #2 (and so on with each layer).
5. Your last color is (usually) your darkest color of ink. By this time, you will have carved most of the linoleum away. Anything that is left will be printed in this final color. The final step is important in adding clarity to the contour of your forms.

Students completed an edition of five prints each. Each person matted their most successful print of the edition... here are a few examples of the awesome prints from 1st hour!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Monochromatic Self-Portraits

Here are a few great self-portraits from the 5th graders this year!

In 5th grade art, we learn about the monochromatic color scheme, and how you can paint an entire painting using different values of one hue.

These tempera paintings are completed on a 12"x18" piece of construction paper. The paper is the same color as their paintings are intended to be. Before we start painting, we talk about assigning different numbers to each value: 1=white, 5=the unblended hue, 10=black. Focusing on values 1-5, we fill in our painting with as many values as possible! Black chalk was applied over the paint to add dark values and details.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Reduction Prints on Scratch Foam

High School-level Drawing & Printmaking class began a printing unit several weeks ago. Topic: reduction prints.

Have you ever tried to explain to someone how a reduction print is made?

If so, you might be familiar with the confused expression that usually meets you in response. It is a process that can be tricky to wrap your mind around. After researching different reduction print lessons & methods, I found an answer on a different Art Ed blog: Foam Reduction Prints by "Use Your Coloured Pencils." 

Why not use an elementary-level reduction print as practice? Students were invited to bring in a piece of fruit for breakfast in 1st hour class. If they forgot, I had the plastic fruit & veggies that we use for still life drawing. We printed from 6"x9" Scratch foam. These practice prints took up only two class periods, and now we have moved on to making their more advanced Linocut reduction prints. I can't wait to see how they turn out-- most students are on phase two of printing and the results so far are promising!

Cross Contour Line Designs

There are lots of great Art Education blogs out there... a couple months ago, I stumbled upon this gem of an Op Art lesson by "Art With Mr. E" and tried it with both 4th and 5th graders. They look amazing! Click the link for a thorough description of the process.

Ceramic Masks with Crayon Resist

When an Art Department colleague told me about the clay project she had completed with her 3rd grade students, I couldn't wait to give it a try. The students had so much fun with this lesson, which is perfectly suited to give 3rd graders a creative challenge yet achieve successful results.

Day One: we viewed PowerPoint slides of masks from around the world: the Pacific Northwest, Africa, Japan, India, and South America. We discussed differences and similarities between masks. A mask can really take any shape. It can look like a human, an animal, or an imaginary creature. It can be symmetrical, or asymmetrical. Most masks had eyes, nose, and a mouth, but they could form different expressions. After viewing masks, we drew as many mask ideas as we could fit on a sheet of paper.

Day Two: CLAY DAY! We passed out our sketches from Day 1 and got to work on the clay.
1. Roll the clay to 1/2 " slab
2. Cut out the outside shape of your mask
3. Use your extra clay to add facial features and designs.
4. When the students are complete, the teacher can poke a small hole in the top-center of the mask so it can be displayed on a wall.

Day Three: When all the masks had been bisque fired, we colored them using a resist process.
1. Color the bisque ware as brightly as you can with crayons. This was a PERFECT occasion for me to bring out the coveted bins of glitter crayons! The crayons are too blunt to color many of the small areas, but this turns out to your advantage in step 2.
2. Use black ink/paint to paint over the top of your crayon layer. We used black tempera blocks (the ones that look like hockey pucks) because they are so washable. I hear that India Ink also works; I can assume black watercolor would work. Paint the top and sides, filling in all the crevices so no white shows.
3. Run the mask under water to wash away the excess paint and expose the crayon. In one of my classrooms, we have only one sink, so I set buckets & sponges around the room at a few "washing stations."

Note: if you have the time & resources, I think it would look sharp to varnish the completed projects with Mod Podge, acrylic gloss medium, or spray varnish. We did not do this step, but I would think about it next time.