Saturday, November 23, 2013

Challenges of teaching printmaking to very young artists

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.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Elementary School art - mix media printmaking with primary students

Grade one student with his collage/print (mix media)

The past couple of visits to the classrooms of grades one and two at St. Martin were productive. Students learned a bit about colour theory using the colour wheel for reference.
The object of this particular activity was making impressions from different surfaces. It also explored textural elements.
Phase one had the students draw into or press objects into modeling clay. Water based block printing ink was rolled onto the surface, paper was set over top and an impression was made onto paper using hand rubbing with an object or fingers.

explanation of  how secondary colours can be created from the mix of two of the primary colours
 and this was also used as a visual aid for explaining complementary colours to young students

a student discovers that modeling clay can be rolled and textured
to produce a continuous print on paper 

plastic texture plate was used on modeling clay to make an impression.
Orange block print ink was rolled across the surface

too much application of ink and using too much pressure unfortunately
 smudges the prints as a few students learned during the process

semi circular set up for students to apply inks to clay plates

colour textural impressions set aside to dry

Phase two had the students cut the prints out from the paper and glue (collage) these onto a piece of heavier Bristol board. Foam peel and stick shapes were affixed onto cardboard squares and ink was rolled onto the raised relief shapes. These were stamped over top and into the collage.
Themes explored included underwater and land based environments. Students also incorporated additional drawing and colour applications using marker to the collage prints.

students applying ink to foam shapes on cardboard (stamps) at inking station

grade one student adding elements using marker to the collage and stamp picture

pressing a stamp shape onto paper

different applications of printmaking, collage and drawing create a unique and interesting visual

grade one student work - crocodile on marshy area...quite clever!

Grade One student Isabelle's mix media picture