Sunday, June 7, 2015

Grade 5 + 6 Drypoint Self-portrait Project

During the months of March/April I visited 3 classrooms at St. Elizabeth Catholic Elementary School in Thunder Bay and took on a visual art project (intaglio printmaking + wet media) with over a total of 70 students.
In the fall of 2014 I had presented a six-sided You Cube print project in two other schools. That project used carved relief surfaces to produce multiple images (portraits on paper) in various contrast colour combinations. Those images were pasted onto the sides of a constructed six-sided cardboard cube. I saw an idea in Pinterest titled You Cube and decided to adapt this to using printmaking as the medium since it would create multiple images with greater ease than other mediums.

This time I decided to switch techniques to incorporate intaglio using drypoint on thin acrylic plates as the matrix. Students were asked to create sketches on paper from their self-portraits and then translate these onto the plastic plates using etching needles. Ink was wiped into the scratched line and the plates were printed onto heavy cotton rag paper using a small manually turned etching press that I supplied.

I supplied 25 home-made etching needles. Fortunately it worked out that I had different visits with each class at different times and the needles were brought from one classroom to another so everyone got the opportunity to have a tool to use.

We used Akua carbon black intaglio ink to make the print onto the paper. Prints were attached to the top of each print using green painters tape to attach onto both sides of the large sheets of corrugated cardboard (used to construct their cubes from). The were propped up against walls and allowed several days to dry. 

Then the prints were attached onto plasticore boards again using the green painters tape. Students applied colour to each print with wet media that included watercolour and tempera. 
Colour renderings were accomplished in three approaches, using one of the following for each print

  • realistic flesh tone in watercolour with a background
  • flat even colour in either watercolour or tempera
  • fantasy portrait (they were given a few trays of iridescent and fine glitter watercolour to use if they so chose)

These were trimmed and using liquid white glue were attached to the surface of a their 6 sided cube. An additional panel was created using their initials and a zentangle background in dry media. One side of the box was left unhinged to use as a door or lid.

Two of the teachers decided to have their students incorporate a small painted sculpting clay based figure and place these inside the box.

Two weeks back I picked these up from the school and put up a display at two separate branches of the Thunder Bay Public Library. These will be up for a couple of weeks.

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