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In the Omnibus, Mary Cassatt.


Young children love to make prints. The magical moment when the print is pulled from the inking plate never ceases to delight little (and big) artists. After looking at the Art Print and sharing/defining key vocabulary (engraving, outline, plate), model for students how to make a simple foam block print. Demonstrate how to use a pencil tip to press lines into the foam. Next, use printers ink to ink the foam plate. Place a sheet of drawing paper over the plate, press, and pull to reveal the print.

Hang the print next to the plate and ask students to describe what they see. (They should notice that the printed image is the reverse of the image on the plate). Give each student a foam plate and a pencil. Instruct them to lightly draw a picture on the foam. When they are satisfied with their drawing, have them draw over each line, applying enough pressure to make channels in the foam. Complete the process by inking, pressing and pulling each print.


Mothers and/or caregivers with children captured in scenes from everyday life make up the great majority of works by the American artist Mary Cassatt. In this work, Cassatt depicts two women and a young child as passengers on a bus. Presumably, the woman on the left is the mother; the one on the right, the nanny.

With a remarkable economy of line, Cassatt was able to create very complete forms, especially of the mother. Point out the lines that are most predominant, such as those found in the clothing and discuss how these lines work to create shape and form.

Next, give students drawing paper and pencils and instruct them to sketch a family scene with at least two figures. The scene should depict a typical life scene. Brainstorm with students possible ideas, such as reading a bedtime story, having a family dinner, or playing a board game.

Encourage students to focus on major contour lines, not details. After students have had time to make a few different sketches, ask them to choose one that will become the subject of a print. Using printing foam, show students how to use a pencil or stylus to incise their scene into the foam.

In another class session, set up inking a printing stations, using only black ink. After students complete the printing process, provide colored pencils or crayons and instruct them to lay in color. Display all finished work alongside the Art Print.


Display the Art Print and explain to students that this image is one in a series of 10 prints that Mary Cassatt made during 1890 and 1891. Each of the images feature a modern French woman or women engaged in everyday activities, such as sealing a letter, bathing a child, or having tea with a friend. Lead a brainstorming session with students about typical, "everyday" activities common to middle school students. Form a list as students make suggestions. Next, lead a modeling session to familiarize students with foam block printing.

Over the next few class sessions, give students time to sketch images of typical activities in the life of a middle school student. Instruct students to chose five drawings on which to base a series of prints. Give students time to incise and print five printing blocks. Have students mount the finished prints in series on a piece of poster board.


This month's Art Print, In the Omnibus, is an example of two printing processes known as drypoint and aquatint, both favored by Mary Cassatt. Have students research these processes, studying other examples of prints by Cassatt and well as other artists who often employed these techniques.

After students have adequately researched the topics, give them the materials to create an original print. After all prints are completed, gather students together to share their work and discuss their experiences with the processes.

Instructions: The monthly Art Print is meant to be removed from the center of the magazine, laminated or matted, and used as a resource in your art room.--Editor

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Publication:Arts & Activities
Date:Oct 29, 2015
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