Saturday, October 10, 2009

Elementary School Art - Collagraph prints from Nature

collagraph print
water based ink on rag paper
plate size 20 x 25 cm (8 x 10 inches)

I recently was contacted by a Gr. 5 elementary school teacher in Thunder Bay expressing interest in having me come and undertake a printmaking based project with his class.

This is for a program called Artists in the Fifth. This program has been up and running for the past few years where grade five students and their teachers in regional schools choose to bring in actual working artists (visual, musicians, dance and movement, writers,etc..) to the classroom and the children work directly with us on unique and exciting projects designed around particular themes. The results of these projects are then presented to the local community in a one day showcase called An Arts Fiesta which takes place every Feb. at our local community auditorium. The participating schools with the students and teachers are in attendance as are the artists who have come into their classes. In addition the public and local media are invited to come and participate.

The visual art creations are displayed on panels or hung on the walls while music, spoken word and movement pieces are performed on stage.
The theme this year for the program is Design by Nature.

The class I will be working with decided they would like to explore collagraph printmaking and so I decided to create an example print that illustrates what can be achieved.

For this particular study I incorporated natural materials found in nature such as leaves, blades of grass, conifer needles. These were adhered to a thin paper plate with PVC glue. I also added in some background texture to the plate by working a thin layer of acrylic gel medium in with a paint brush. When everything was dry and the gel had hardened I coated both sides of the plate with acrylic latex house paint. This helps to seal and waterproof and keep the tension equal on both sides of the plate.

I then applied waterbase printing ink to the plate surface by painting it on with a brush, dabbing it into recesses with sponge foam brush or small bundles of material. The ink was then wiped with rags or worked with my fingers until I felt it had reached a point where it was ready to print onto paper.
As the waterbase ink was starting to dry I applied a fine mist of water spray to the plate surface and also to the one side of the paper which was then set over top of the plate. Both plate and paper were set on the bed of an etching press and a rubber blanket was placed over top of the plate/paper. I passed the works under the roller of the press (it was set for a bit of a squeeze) but not as much pressure as one would require to print a etched thin metal plate.

Notice how the combination of pressure and ink picks up the fine structures found in each object especially the leaves and the cedar needles. This is a direct example of designs created by Nature as they are observed in the actual materials used. I have taken the natural components and arranged them in such a way to teach the students about composition, colour, texture and
the like.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this, looks lovely. Very helpful for me as I consider ways to teach the style of Jim Dine in printmaking- but don't want to use drypoint as yet. Good to see the water based inks can pick up the texture, as I am no longer using the oil based inks in class.