students making prints off styrofoam
I have learned during my recent placement in a local school as an art educator that there have been a few challenges involved with teaching printmaking to young primary school students.
With grades one and two level they are just beginning to learn about colour.
My first recourse before we are fully engaged in an activity has been to first explain a little bit to them about colour. Using the colour wheel as a visual aid has been the best way to do this. I try to make a little game out of this by telling them terms and then see if they can remember the terms.
Using word and number association is a clever way to help remember. I tell them that the three primary colours them are the first or #1. Mixing of the combinations of the 3 makes secondary colours which become #2. Tertiary or third colours are #3. Showing them the opposite colour in a straight line across the wheel helps them to recognize the complementary colour.
I also am finding that some of the key learning aspects with basic printmaking are shape and texture. Surfaces such as cardboard, modeling clay, craft foam and styrofoam are used as the means by which students can explore both of these.
Drawing skills are of course key to any artistic discipline so we also focus on this. I show them examples of line and related ie. dots, cross hatching, spacing of linear elements, weight of line, etc...
I also talk about key concepts such as repetition, pattern, contrast of colours, colour harmony, balance of elements in a composition. These require an explanation in it's simplest form so that the young minds can grasp what I am saying. I achieve this by drawing an example on the chalk board or pointing out a particular concept by showing them a famous work of art and how it illustrates and incorporates this.
I explain to them that what sets printmaking apart from other types of art approaches is the ability to make multiple images from a single source.
Challenges are discovered though the application of ink onto a surface (either too thin or too thick) and determining the correct amount of pressure to apply when printing using hand rubbing or stamping ( not enough yields a spotty print or too much pressure and you get a blob with no details).
My visits have been limited to less than one hour. This has forced me to deliver projects that can be accomplished either in one visit or in stages over several visits. It means I have to set up materials ahead of class and not dwell too much on discussion but give students engagement time to be creative.