Thursday, March 31, 2016

gelatin monoprint birds

I always like to incorporate a printmaking project into each camp because it is an art form with an element of surprise that always gets the kids excited.

I created a large amount of gelatin plates for some workshops I ran for the North Vancouver Community Arts Council and Canuck Place that I wanted to utilize in all the Spring Break camps I ran this season. So I had the kids create monoprint birds for the "Birds of a Feather" camp I ran through North Vancouver Community Arts Council.

6 year old, Crane

Using a limited palette of printing ink, each child created a hand painted bird on the gelatin plate. Each small gelatin plate was placed on a piece of plexiglass that I keep in my personal studio for a variety of art projects, including printmaking. They have been one of the best resources I added to my supplies and well worth the time it took to cut and sand over five years ago.

6 year old, baby duck

7 year old, robin

There are so many different printmaking projects you can do with gelatin plates and they are easy to make yourself, saving lots of money rather than buying the ones online. I make them in a cookie sheet and then cut them into 1/8th's in order to make it cost effective for large classes. Here is a recipe if you want to try it, I strongly recommend adding the glycerine as my plates last for up to a year making the upfront investment very cost effective. I use them for a variety of printmaking projects and you can find lots of ideas online or on my Pinterest board.

7 year old, blue bird

Each child placed a reference picture under the plexiglass to start the project. I asked them to roughly sketch in their bird with the ink, pulling out the reference picture when they could no longer see the bird.

Then each child spent their time layering the paint and creating their final picture. Some tried to stay true to the reference picture and some did their own thing. I stressed NOT washing out the paintbrush between color so they could get more interesting color combinations. 
6 year old, crane

9 year old, flamingo

As they began to complete the painting, I showed each of them how to use the back of the small paintbrush I had given them to gently draw into the picture. GENTLE is the word to stress as you don't want them to scratch the plate of the marks will be permanent on every print afterwards.

7 year old

Once they were happy with their painting, I gave them two pieces of card stock, each cut just a bit bigger than the plate. I spritzed the paper with a bit of water that I then wiped off with a clean sponge prior to them laying it over their drawing. This will reactivate any dry ink. Then I told the kids to give the paper a "nice back rub", not moving the paper at all. You do not want them to press down, just a bit of pressure as they rub in a circular motion across the paper.

8 year old

Then the fun part, pulling the print! Oh their faces the first time they do it, it is so rewarding to watch. For the most part they are pleased as punch with the outcome, sometimes not, and then we go over what went wrong. Usually there is not enough paint (they rushed and just wanted to get to the printing), not enough pressure when rubbing or they did not rub the entire thing. To be honest even when things do not come out as anticipated, they are still wonderful works of art.



brown bird

The great thing is that they can do multiple pictures, which they want to do anyway, where they can apply what they have learned along the way to create lovely finished pieces.

Printmaking is always one of the highlights of camp and this project was no exception. It is crazy busy for me, but well worth it to see the kids having so much fun.

5 year old

There are some great moments I cannot plan for that happen, that are great learning lessons for everyone. Lessons like not giving up and problem solving. The below print is a great example of that, the child created a blob on the plate and wanted to wash it off at start over. I encouraged him to find the bird within the blob, to add paint over the mess and create something out of it.

6 year old

Pretty amazing, right? Created out of a mess of a black blob. I stopped the class to show them what the little boy had done, first to reaffirm to him that it pays to not give up and work through something and second to show by example why every other child in the room should do the same.

One of the other highlights for the kids was the ghost prints. This is the print pulled with the leftover ink left on the plate after the original print was pulled. I stress to the kids that sometimes you get something really neat and other times really nothing at all. Sometimes the ghost print even ends up being the favorite print!

6 year old ghost print

6 year old ghost print

7 year old ghost print

The kids had so much fun creating these works. There were some beautiful monoprints made in the camp. I took all of them home and remounted them for framing. This is time consuming on my part, but I feel is important in order to honor the work the kids have put into creating the art.

9 year old

I think each child finished this project big fans of printmaking, almost as big a fan as I am of their finished birds.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Ink landscape paintings

In the "Hello Vancouver" camp, I had the artist explore creating a landscape painting of Vancouver without using color.

I gave each child some India ink, a paintbrush, a jug of water and a paper towel. Then asked them to lightly sketch out a scene from the reference material provided of Vancouver on watercolor paper.

10 year old, view from seawall

Together we explored how to create value using the ink on some scrap paper and some of the different ways to apply ink, such as dry brush.

8 year old, tree at Jericho beach

9 year old,  West Vancouver viewpoint

I also handed out some homemade tonal viewfinders I made, to put over the reference material, to make it easier to figure out the tones to create their artwork.

9 year old, Jericho beach

The artist seemed to really enjoy working without color and quickly caught on as to how to create the values needed to make an interesting landscape painting. As a teacher, it was great to be able to refer back to this project on later works they were creating to help them create more interest with value in their works.

8 year old

One artist in particular ended up with two lovely works, her "test" paper that she worked out how to use the ink and brush and her large artwork. 

11 year old, test paper

I told her she should add it to a card to give to someone she cares about with a note inside. Isn't it lovely? Here is her final work.

11 year old, Lighthouse Park

What lovely works of art each child created without one bit of color! This was a relaxing project for the kids and I could not be more thrilled with the skills they learned on top of the beautiful art they created.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

liquid watercolor birds

The campers in "Birds of a Feather" had a fun time exploring liquid watercolors one morning. I love the rich coloring the kids get using this medium.

6 year old

I had the kids start this artwork by exploring blind contour drawing. Always a little scary at first when they realize they cannot see the paper, but on the whole creates a lot of giggling when they see the final results. This time they created the drawing using water-soluble graphite.

6 year old

I love the use of blind contour drawing to get the first marks on the paper. It usually results in a drawing they would of never made otherwise and the students always have the opportunity to draw into the work and change anything they are unhappy with in the initial drawing.

7 year old

7 year old

When they were happy with their drawing, I handed out a palette of liquid watercolor in only the primary colors. I gave a quick tutorial on how to mix the colors to create their own array of colors and also showed them a couple of techniques they could do with watercolor, such as scratching, blotting and the ever popular adding salt.

6 year old

8 year old

9 year old

The water-soluble graphite added some nice tones to the color when the water hit it. I had not told the kids the graphite reacted with water and it was fun to watch their reactions as they made the discovery.

6 year old

7 year old

I have yet to meet a student who does not like exploring this medium. It is always exciting to watch them learn through process with this medium and I truly enjoy listening to them share with each other discoveries they make while creating art.

9 year old

Once the paintings were dry, I gave each child the opportunity to use a permanent marker if they wanted to highlight some lines.

5 year old

And then we called them works complete. They were each so proud of what they created during this process. But most importantly, they had a great time exploring liquid watercolor while creating these marvelous birds.

Monday, March 28, 2016

mixed media using vintage photographs

In the "Hello Vancouver" spring break camp, I decided to introduce a mixed media project that included a bit of history of the city,  so I referenced several vintage photographs to share with the students.

Most photographs were from 100 years ago!

The kids were fascinated by what our city use to look like and by what has changed drastically, (horse and carriages, dirt roads), and by what has not, ("the lions" mountain peaks and the famous cedar tree stump in Stanley Park).

I asked each child to choose an image that intrigued them to start the project. They put those to the side for a moment while they created a cream and white background using acrylic paint.

9 year old (looking down 1st street in Kitslano)

Then they placed some matte medium on the paper and placed a print out of their photograph image side down and let it dry. 

(We started a new project during this time and came back to this project later)

8 year old (entrance to Stanley Park)

Then using a bit of water, the artist began to rub away the paper leaving the image behind on the painting. I stressed that they would not know how much image would stay and that was part of the surprise. Some of the students had a very clear and detailed image while others barely had anything stay on the paper.

Once they had the image transferred on their artwork, the students began to add a drawing to the image so that the viewer would not be able to tell where the photograph ended and the students' original marks started. I found it very interesting how each student tackled this challenge, some created identifiable landscapes while others created very abstract works.

8 year old,  (Vancouver mountain range)

The students used water-soluble black pencils, charcoal, graphite, and white paint to create their finished works. I had some students go back into the image with a white china marker or a white gel pen to highlight parts of their original image.

10 year old (skaters on a frozen Lost Lagoon)

9 year old (Stanley Park tree stump)

I love the feel of these works the kids created and think they found it very interesting to look at photographs of "old Vancouver". As a history buff, it was exciting to show the kids how their artwork could not only be a beautiful thing but also an opportunity to teach something new to the viewer about what our city use to be.

10 year old ("the Lions" mountain peaks)

As the artist were finishing their works, I discussed with them the idea of adding words to the art. I talked to them about how typography can be an interesting addition to their art pieces and help finish a work or give the viewer a point of reference. Some of the students decided to try adding type and some did not.

11 year old (Grouse Mountain)

Either way, each and every student came away with a beautiful piece of art.