Thursday, April 23, 2015

Junior primary classroom art activities - monoprints and mix media

Recently I engaged a grade one/two split class at Hyde Park public school here in Thunder Bay in a two part activity that began with the students making basic monoprints onto paper.
A Monoprint is a one of a kind image that is transferred from one surface onto another. 

Wikipedia defines the form as: 
  1. Monoprinting is a form of printmaking that has images or lines that can only be made once, unlike most printmaking, where there are multiple originals. There are many techniques of monoprinting. Examples of standard printmaking techniques which can be used to make monoprints include lithography, woodcut, and etching.
However this activity became more of a mix media project since the use of a paper mask to create negative shapes was implemented. Drawing, colour introduced using markers, pencil crayon and collage (cut/paste) were additional stages that added embellishment to the prints.

To begin students were asked to create shapes from construction paper and cut these out. These would serve as a masks placed over top of paintings to block out shapes that would be left as negative space from the white paper area left without paint covering it. 

painting the modified pigments onto the freezer paper plates and placing cut paper shapes over top

The next phase had each student paint modified acrylic and tempera paint onto a piece of plastic coated freezer paper.
A small amount of Createx monoprinting medium was mixed into the water based pigments and it was painted with brushes onto the plastic barrier surface.

The cut paper shapes were then placed on top of the wet paint. Heavier smooth surface 250 gm rag paper was placed over top and taped down to hold it steady. Students used both soft brayers to roll across the top and gentle pressing using the palms of their hands.

The paper was carefully lifted away from the painted sub-sheet with the paint and was allowed to dry.

For the next stage the students then worked into the open negative space areas with markers to add in elements that included animals, figures, etc.. Some of the young artists were even more adventurous and added in subtle elements of collage using glue and cut paper shapes or transparent tissues.

Teacher Susan Lieske assisting a young artist with his monoprint

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Art in the Public Schools - Grade 5 and 6 drypoint with watercolour addition

I just completed a several visits to 3 classrooms at a local Elementary school through my Ontario Arts Council funded Artist in Education program placements. Students were engaged in a project that had them interpret a photo portrait that was taken of each of them into a drypoint line print on paper. 

This was another version of a You Cube relief project I did at two other schools earlier in the year. However this time around I used intaglio as the basis for creation of the imagery.

Thin packaging plastic was used to achieve this. The plastic is heavier than acetate but thinner  
in density than plexiglass. I fashioned etching needles using darning needles inserted into pre-drilled ends of wood dowel and secured tightly using masking tape rolled around the eye end of the needle.
Akua black intaglio ink was wiped into the scratched images and the surface of each was polished using yellow pages torn from old phone directories.
3 prints were made by each student onto 250 gm rag paper and by manually passing the inked plates, paper and felts underneath the adjusted top roller of my table top etching press. 

We allowed a week for drying of the ink and then the prints were taped onto corrugated plastic boards. I put together individual foam plates with button sizes of 12 hues of tube watercolours and students applied paint into the monochromatic studies.

The final stage of this project had students take the trimmed prints and fasten them using liquid white glue onto 3 sides of a 14 cm (5.5 inch) square corrugated cardboard box.

For public presentation 12 cubes will be stacked in a vertical format (fastened together between top and bottoms of each square using double sided tape. I will place it on a larger cardboard base sheet to help with stablility. We should have around 10 columns that can be viewed from 360 degrees. One side of each box will open like a small door and students will place a handmade clay object they will make that best represents some aspect of themselves.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Teaching art in elementary grade school – mix media and relief print murals (Jr. primary grades)

In the trees
Brodie Resource Library
April 2015
created by grades 1/2 students
Hyde Park Public School
Teacher: Susan Lieske
Art Educator: Brian Holden

I have been giving art instruction to a grade one/two split class at Hyde Park Public School in Thunder Bay. I have been very fortunate to be paired with a highly creative minded teacher, Susan Lieske. These eager and enthusiastic young artists have undertaken a few projects with me since November.

Two projects that were recently completed in this particular classroom are currently on display at the Brodie Resource Library here in the city of Thunder Bay. I was approached by a committee from the library who saw the vision of public and school based art on a few walls in the library system.

Yours truly assisting a student to make a cut paper shape and modified acrylic paint monoprint.

The first project is a series of panels that have the option to be displayed either in a vertical or horizontal presentation. In the first of the 2 art displays I had long open shelf tops available in the venue and  thus arranged the panels in one long panorama style display.
This particular series explores Animal Totems in the theme. Students chose animals indigenous to this region and working from photo references made a sketch onto a thin flat plate made of dense styrofoam. Water based block printing inks were applied to the plate surface using synthetic soft rubber brayers. Prints were made onto pre-cut squares of black mulberry paper. I mounted the prints onto black mat board panels.

I also connected the animals to regional first nation culture and we learned the name of each of the creatures from the Ojibwe language.  The full list of createures are listed on the last panel that is included below.







Black bear





In a related pursuit Susan Lieske had her students research their animals, look at their significance from a first nations connection and put all of this into hand made little accordion fold booklets. These are also available for the public to look at and read just below the panels in a wall pamphlet system.

The second more recent project I have this class was the creation of a mix media collective mural.  It began with me drawing 2 large tree shapes over a 4 x 7 ft arrangement of bristol board pieces into a grid of 4 up by 6 across (for a total of 24 rectangles). I encouraged each student to retain the bare branch shape passing through their rectangles but to bring each part of the tree to life using drawing, painting, relief stamping and collage. The mural is titled In the trees. It is a large colourful mosaic of colours, shapes and textures and also the viewer can make out the tree shapes that define everything when it is assembled. I think that each individual panel is a work of art unto itself.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Teaching Art in Public school classrooms - Grade One art

Nanabijou - The Sleeping Giant
mix media
Grade 1
St. Elizabeth Catholic Jr. Elementary School

This past week I completed a 50 hour residency in a local elementary school that began in mid-February.

I visited five classrooms using a once per week visitation schedule. Each visit was approximately 100 minutes in duration.
I was paired with teachers and students from 2 grade one, a grade five and 2 grade six classes.

Both classrooms with grade one’s undertook 2 projects.
The first project was a visual storyboard that explored a different theme in each class. The first class explored the legend of Nanabijou. Those of us who live here know it here as the Sleeping Giant, a rise of a land formation on a peninsula that is located across the bay from our fair city of Thunder Bay. (see photo at the head of this post). 

The second grade 1 class explored landscapes of Canada.

Stage 1 was to teach the young artists basic drawing composition (shapes) and colour theory/colour mixing. They were given trays of water based acrylic paints and with brushes had to lay down areas of primary and mixed secondary colours onto rag papers.  

Stage 2 was to  have them draw shapes in pencil on a 10 x 13 inch all media paper based board. This would establish the composition from which all other media would be applied to construct each storyboard.

Stage 3 had students create thin foam plate stamps by drawing shapes (plants, animals, etc…) in the foam surface, cutting and gluing these onto a recycled cardboard base. Water based relief printing ink was rolled on the stamp using a soft rubber brayer.

In stage 4 students cut out pieces of their colour areas that they painted in stage #1. They also cut shapes from pieces of oriental papers that I brought to class with me. These were then glued into strategic areas to add texture, colour to the pencil shapes.

Finally markers and other dry media were used to add definition (outlines and details) to the works.

The second project was the same for both classrooms. It had students brush white glue onto a balloon (these were set into plastic containers and held in place using small tabs of masking tape). The students them applied strips of newspaper using a wallpaper paste adhesive over the glue on the top half of balloons (paper mâché).     I took these home once they had dried and applied additional layers of Modge Podge mixed with white acrylic paint to seal and prime the molded paper. The balloons were deflated and carefully peeled away from the paper. I trimmed each to create a white bowl shape for each student.

 The final stage had students paint acrylic paint onto the exterior and interior of each of their bowls. We set the bowls into Styrofoam bowls to help keep them stabilized while the paint was being applied.

The paper-mâché bowls were the take home component of this project. The mixed media storyboards will be given an exhibition opportunity in a couple of weeks time at a branch of our city’s Public Library.