I don’t know about other art teachers, but sometimes, I am learning something new right along with my students. Lino printing (most printing, really) qualifies as new for me. I always try to warn my students when we are learning something new together, but rarely do I get through a new lesson feeling like I need a lot more work on that. Feeling like, “Hey, can I get a do-over?” Not that our lessons always turn out spectacularly, because I am often surprised in the midst of a lesson, or take note of something I will do differently with the next group, or the next time I teach this lesson. But I don’t often feel unsatisfied myself, feeling like I am missing some things about this. Printing does that to me, though. Yet, I felt like printing was the best, coolest introduction to Japanese art that I could offer my older students.
So I will call these our first passes at lino printing. And I probably won’t try this in a class that includes third graders again.
a turtle, by a 5th grade student
this sixth grade student learned there is no erasing a lino cut, but awesome cross
a flying heart by a fourth grader
a fourth graders tulip in honor of tulip days
a third grader's baseball
a third grader inspired by Mount Fuji
I definitely see me spending more time working on this over the summer. Until it’s easy for me, it can’t become easy for my students.
and truly, I did not anticipate the reaction our gyotaku would get from the fifth and sixth graders. I started out reminding them that in Japanese culture almost EVERYthing can be an art. And printing in Japan was a long-established art, as we had already experience with our lino block prints. Japan is surrounded by ocean, so it has a serious fisherman tradition also. So is it surprising that something that began as a way to record your great catch long before the Kodak became a beautiful fine art? I thought not.
So when I pulled out our whole semi-frozen tilapia, why were the kids shocked? Did they think I would practice fish printing with potatoes? (And let me add that the difficulty of acquiring that fish in the midst of the heartland of America was a surprise to me). We watched a video of someone printing a fish, and they were totally grossed out. Ewwwww!
Excuse me?! I picked this art because this class 80% male! Do you not fish, boy students? What do boys do nowadays?!
When we daubed ink over our fish, pulling out the fins, the female part of the class was cool as cucumbers. A couple of boys weren’t touching my fish. It was certainly memorable!! This was my first time printing a fish, and I would have loved more time and paper to perfect our technique. Our prints show just gloppy ink in places, and we seriously should have had a Qtip to clean the eye of ink, rather than tissue. Sometimes making do doesn’t work. We will go over our fish prints with Sharpie to make a live eye before I mount these for the art show, but I wanted to to share now.
fish print by 6th grade girl
fish print by 6th grade boy
I realized this week that there is a LOT of trust required of an art student for his/her art teacher. Yes, *I* know the steps they need to take to make that blank sheet of paper resemble the demonstration piece, but sometimes it’s hard for the children to believe that what they are doing will get them there!
First and second grades began a scratch-art project this week. The demo I showed them is actually in stages of completion. Part of the paper is only the rainbow of colors laid down in oil pastel, while the rest shows the black acrylic paint overlaid, with the spider web scratched out. Still, once students had striped their papers in brilliant colors, they looked at me in amazement when I told them to cover it in black paint. Some even gasped! LOL! I have 18 sheets of black squares now, some with brilliant hues still peeking through because students couldn’t imagine making it such a solid black. By this time next week, I will have delighted students, amazed at their beautiful webs, which we will post on our school site at Artsonia. Thank you to http://kidsartists.blogspot.com/ for the great idea. It tied in perfectly to their classroom reading of Charlotte’s Web!
Kindergarten also meets on Thursdays, and we read one of my favorite books introducing secondary colors: White Rabbit’s Color Book. This book also introduces the concepts of cool and warm colors, but best for me, the color changing character is a RABBIT. How perfect for introducing printing technique to little ones? We used large bottle caps, which we imagined to be bunnies. Bunnies hop; they don’t wallow like piggies, or scoop like shovels. They hop, and maybe dance a little. Our cap bunnies hopped into blue paint and hopped back out onto our paper and left a little bunny print. They did this several times, and then, like the character in the book, they “showered” on a damp paper towel. Then our bunnies hopped into red and back on the paper near another bunny print, and did a little turn. When things worked just right, one circle’s colors picked up a little of another circle’s colors, and shades of secondary colors began to appear in their artwork! Of course, some of the artitsts got pretty excited about that, and began to smear their bunny caps around a bit much. But how wonderful that they understood they were making their own colors not available on the palette! They had only been given three colors, but their art had as many colors as mine did. Here is the sample piece, actually done in a cheap paint that I would never use with the students. Their artwork on Artsonia is in vibrant primaries!