Printer Friendly

Animals make a good first impression.

Printmaking is a particularly effective medium for the study of line and shapes, and positive and negative space in a composition. I introduce printmaking by outlining history and the processes involved. I tell my students how prehistoric people made relief prints by putting their hands into colored pigment and pressing their palms against cave walls. I explain the basic processes, including relief, lithography, collagraphy, serigraphy, and etching and emphasize size that each process requires different tools and equipment.

Students learn that a relief print can be made from different plates, such as a piece of wood, rubber, linoleum or plastic, and that sharp tools are used to cut away areas of the plate. For our project, we used a Styrofoam plate and a dull pencil point to depress lines and shapes. I explained how when ink is rolled on the surface using a brayer, only the raised areas receive the ink and make a print. A sheet of paper is lowered onto the plate and a baren is used to transfer the ink to the paper. The paper is then rolled back or pulled away from the plate. I mentioned how the image is printed in reverse from the original plate. To make sure the students understood this concept, I showed them a print I had made and the plate. We then talked about the subject matter of our prints I told them we would be sketching close-up views of several animals. I chose animals as the theme because of how it incorporates these elements Students are always impressed by the variations of the flow of hair, feathers, shells, wrinkles, etc., on each animal's body.

Creating the Composition

I gave the students 8 x 10 1/2" (20 x 27 cm) sheets of typewriter paper, pencils, erasers and a stack of animal photographs. I allowed each student to make her or his own selection. I stressed the importance of looking for definite shapes, beginning with the head shape. Since this was a study in realism, the students were to look for shapes in relationship to other shapes. Drawings were to be made using light, sketchy lines so corrections could be made. Composition was critical, and I told the students to use the entire page. During the class period, I moved around the room, helping the students and encouraging their progress. They passed in their work with their drawings on top of the photographs they had chosen.

The students spent the next period drawing again. I handed back their work with written comments of adjustments and corrections that should be made. Students were taught about the importance of adding lines for the texture seen in their animals. I asked questions like, if I touched their animal, how would it feel, and how could I convey that to the viewer? We observed how the direction and length of lines is significant in representing different textures. We addressed the difference between a stylized view of a bird's feather and the lines and shapes actually seen.

The students selected their favorite drawing to transfer to 9 x 12" (23 x 31 cm) foam board. They taped the drawing down to the board using two small pieces of tape on one side. This was done so they could lift up the drawing to investigate what had been transferred to the plate at any time.

Numbering the Prints

I introduced the idea of an edition, or the total number of impressions made by a given plate. The students learned that the top number tells what number the print is in the edition. the bottom number tells the total number of prints in the edition. The students learned that the first print pulled is called the artist proof or A/P and that corrections of changes could be made to the plat if necessary after the proof is run. The numbering of the prints would be made in the margin, centered, below the print. The artist's signature would be written in the lower right comer, while the title would be to the left. We talked about how valuable a print might be based on the numbering system.

During the next period, the students were set up in teams of two; one printed, while the other assisted. Desks were grouped with newspaper covering them. One side became the inking side, where the plate, ink, brayer and Styrofoam tray were located. The other desk became the printing side, with baren and pencil handy. The student whose plate was to be printed selected a dark color ink to print on both white drawing paper and colored paper. The colored construction paper had to be a contrasting light color. I demonstrated how the plate should be inked, printed, numbered, titled and signed. The non-printing partner in the team had the responsibility of loading the print on the drying rack and keeping the work place free of ink. Newspaper could be laid over any mess made by the ink. The team was responsible for cleaning up its station.

The students enjoyed the freedom of choosing the animal they wanted to draw. There also seemed to be some excitement about the medium itself, as students learned how to depict different textures and experienced the satisfaction of duplicating an image they had created. Each print in the edition seemed to become better as the students learned how to handle the tools. Quite a few students inquired about the art supplies needed to do some additional printmaking in the summer months. These are the types of responses that make teaching art a rewarding experience.

Jeanne Johnson is an elementary art instructor in the Mechanicsburg Area School District, Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania.
COPYRIGHT 1996 Davis Publications, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1996, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:printmaking lesson
Author:Johnson, Jeanne
Publication:School Arts
Date:Mar 1, 1996
Previous Article:Earth Day books.
Next Article:Haniwa horse.

Related Articles
Printmaking for talented students.
High relief block printing.
Print like an Egyptian.
Eraser prints.
Prints are elementary.
"Blotto": symmetry and beginning prints.
Integrating science & art.
Books to treasure.
Animal Splits: A Circus Treat.
Endangered Animal Prints.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2017 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters