Tag: DIY

Linoleum Relief Printmaking Basics + Colored Pencils

Printmaking is such an interesting and historic art making process. My students especially love it because they have the ability to make multiple prints of one image. They often refer to the linoleum block in relief printmaking as a “stamp,” which I have an irrational hatred for. Somehow calling it a  “stamp” lowers the artistic value for me. Or maybe I am just annoyed because they aren’t using their art vocabulary. Regardless, I always try to incorporate printmaking into at least one of my art classes, and relief printmaking is typically the way I go.

For this particular assignment I use linoleum blocks and a number of printmaking specific tools. However, there are a number of ways to incorporate the same basic concepts without the expense of the tools. One option for a simpler version of this is using natural materials you can easily find around your house to create designs to print with. Check out my supply list and how to for this portrait based relief printmaking project below.


An introduction to relief printmaking that covers the basics of using linoleum to make a portrait print. This assignment is turned into a mixed media project by incorporating Prisma colored pencils to fill in the skin tone of the portrait. This is one post in an art education blog hop. Visit and check out more!

SUPPLIES:

  • Computer and printer to edit image and print it
  • Pencil
  • Graphite paper
  • Linoleum block
  • Linocutters and/or other carving tools.
  • Brayer
  • Baren (a wooden spoon also works very well)
  • Printmaking ink
  • Newsprint (for proofs)
  • White paper and rulers, to create registrations
  • Printmaking paper
  • Colored pencils (Prisma colored pencils are my number one choice)
  • Erasers
  • Black paper to mount and display the finished works of art

HOW TO

An introduction to relief printmaking that covers the basics of using linoleum to make a portrait print. This assignment is turned into a mixed media project by incorporating Prisma colored pencils to fill in the skin tone of the portrait. This is one post in an art education blog hop. Visit and check out more!

For the first step you need to select your image. For this particular assignment, my students focus on a portrait. I always encourage them to select someone they know personally. I have found that if my students can develop a personal connection to the assignment they become more committed to the end product. It is also a great way for students to express themselves individually within the constraints of a general topic.

Once you select the image, you must simplify it. For this assignment, my students are creating prints with a single color, so they must simplify their image to just black and white. Not all images work well when converted to only black and white, so it is helpful to try editing at least three different options and select the most successful one.

For this step I use Photoshop. I open the image, select “Image-Mode-Grayscale.” Next, you select “Image-Adjustments-Posterize” and set the number to 2. This leaves just black and white in the image. With printmaking, you are creating a mirror image of the original design. Therefore, it’s helpful for students to flip their images before printing (to do this go to “Image-Image Rotation-Flip Canvas Horizontal”). This is especially true when dealing with portraits. It’s shocking how different a person can look when you create a mirror image of them. Next, size the image to the linoleum block. These were smaller, so I sized my image to 4″x4″ then printed a few copies out. SIDE NOTE: I have done 4″x4″ prints in the past, which saves money on linoleum, but with the colored pencil addition at the end, it is much more successful with a larger size such as 6″x6″ or 8″x8″

An introduction to relief printmaking that covers the basics of using linoleum to make a portrait print. This assignment is turned into a mixed media project by incorporating Prisma colored pencils to fill in the skin tone of the portrait. This is one post in an art education blog hop. Visit and check out more!

After your picture is printed and ready to go, you need to re-draw it on the linoleum block or transfer the image to the block. Because this is an introduction to printmaking I prefer to have students transfer the images. This frees up a lot of time for them to focus on the printmaking process. To do this, place graphite paper between the linoleum block and the printed image. Trace over the lines. TIP: tape the top of the image to the linoleum block. That way you can lift the image and make sure you didn’t miss anything without accidentally moving it.  TIP x2: Fill in the areas you want to keep un-carved with pencil, leave the areas you want to carve blank.

An introduction to relief printmaking that covers the basics of using linoleum to make a portrait print. This assignment is turned into a mixed media project by incorporating Prisma colored pencils to fill in the skin tone of the portrait. This is one post in an art education blog hop. Visit and check out more!

At this point you are finally ready to start carving. Start with larger areas and make your way down to the small details. Switch out the linocutter blades as necessary. ALWAYS cut away from your body and hands. It’s very tempting to cut towards your hand, but these suckers are sharp and it’s very easy to gouge yourself. As I tell my students, “please don’t make me fill out an incident report today.”

With this lesson you can either print onto a sheet of paper, without worrying about the placement and trim the edges later, or you can create a register to help you line up pre-cut paper and center your print in the printing process. I prefer the later because it also introduces a measuring and precision element to the assignment, which covers a different skillset and pushes them to think a different way during the assignment.

An introduction to relief printmaking that covers the basics of using linoleum to make a portrait print. This assignment is turned into a mixed media project by incorporating Prisma colored pencils to fill in the skin tone of the portrait. This is one post in an art education blog hop. Visit and check out more!

Once your image is fully carved out, it’s time to ink and print! I like to work directly on my tabletop for this, although a flat piece of tile would work well and be easier to clean. Place a small spoonful of ink onto your surface, and roll it out using the brayer until you have an even application on the roller. Roll the ink onto the linoleum block, make sure you cover the entire block and have even application. You may notice ink catching areas that aren’t carved low enough. This is why your first few prints are printed on newsprint. It’s cheap paper you can test your prints on until you have the carving just right.

An introduction to relief printmaking that covers the basics of using linoleum to make a portrait print. This assignment is turned into a mixed media project by incorporating Prisma colored pencils to fill in the skin tone of the portrait. This is one post in an art education blog hop. Visit and check out more!

If using a register, place your block in the center and line your paper up with the outer lines. Use a baren (or a wooden spoon) to burnish the back of the paper. Press down and move in small circles hitting every section of the block. Carefully peel the paper off and admire your print!

An introduction to relief printmaking that covers the basics of using linoleum to make a portrait print. This assignment is turned into a mixed media project by incorporating Prisma colored pencils to fill in the skin tone of the portrait. This is one post in an art education blog hop. Visit and check out more!

With the first few prints you are looking for changes that need to be made. I had many areas where I didn’t carve low enough and the ink kept catching small lines in the background. Go back, carve those areas down, and start the process over. Once you are satisfied with your print, start printing on printmaking paper.

An introduction to relief printmaking that covers the basics of using linoleum to make a portrait print. This assignment is turned into a mixed media project by incorporating Prisma colored pencils to fill in the skin tone of the portrait. This is one post in an art education blog hop. Visit and check out more!

It will take a few tries to get the correct ink application. Keep printing until you get at least five quality prints. Make sure you aren’t going too light (a fuzzy, uneven look) or too heavy (small lines in your image are filled in with ink).

An introduction to relief printmaking that covers the basics of using linoleum to make a portrait print. This assignment is turned into a mixed media project by incorporating Prisma colored pencils to fill in the skin tone of the portrait. This is one post in an art education blog hop. Visit and check out more!

To add another element (and a little color) to the print, I decided to add a colored pencil aspect. Since this project specifically focuses on portraits, I decided it was a great opportunity to include a lesson on creating skin tone with colored pencils. The students select one of their five prints to add color to. For my portrait I needed a lighter skin tone and used the following Prima colored pencils colors:

  • White
  • Cream
  • Beige
  • Light Peach
  • Peach
  • Rosy Beige
  • Lilac
  • Light Umber
  • Chocoloate
  • Sienna Brown
  • Tuscan Red

An introduction to relief printmaking that covers the basics of using linoleum to make a portrait print. This assignment is turned into a mixed media project by incorporating Prisma colored pencils to fill in the skin tone of the portrait. This is one post in an art education blog hop. Visit and check out more!

When using colored pencils it’s very important to work in light layers. If too much pigment is put down at once, it creates a waxy layer. The waxiness prevents additional color from sticking and you will end up with a much flatter looking image. It’s important to get layers of various colors to create more depth in your image.

When I work with colored pencils I add in a few highlights to start blocking out the color, then move to the darks and work dark to light from there. With something soft, like skin, it’s best to color in small circles to mimic the softness.

An introduction to relief printmaking that covers the basics of using linoleum to make a portrait print. This assignment is turned into a mixed media project by incorporating Prisma colored pencils to fill in the skin tone of the portrait. This is one post in an art education blog hop. Visit and check out more!

In addition to adding skin tone, I also decided to add a pop of blue in the background. It gave me a way to define edges at the top of the image to create more of a frame and blue reminds me of my grandmother who *unknowingly* became the subject of this lesson. She is a wonderful 94 year old woman who has an iPad and regularly texts on her iPhone (with text special effects I didn’t even know existed) and made me mac n’ cheese and animal shaped pancakes as a child. It doesn’t get much better than that in the realm of grandmothers.

Want to discover more art lessons? This relief printmaking post is part of an art education specific blog hop. My lesson connects to Karen Phillip’s lesson on printmaking with natural materials by making stamps out of potatoes and dying fabric with cabbage, onion skins, and blackberries. Check out Stacey Peter’s lesson next, which connects through mixed media. Her students create mixed media collages that focus on their hometowns, and has a literary tie in. Don’t miss anyone in the loop (or any of the amazing lessons) the list of art teacher’s involved in the blog hop is below:

Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog. Help me spread the word about making art education personal and getting kids creating by sharing on your social network of choice. Also, if you are interested in purchasing this relief printmaking lesson plan, PowerPoints, handouts, and other materials I use for this lesson, check it out on my TPT store here. Thanks for stopping by!

An introduction to relief printmaking that covers the basics of using linoleum to make a portrait print. This assignment is turned into a mixed media project by incorporating Prisma colored pencils to fill in the skin tone of the portrait. This is one post in an art education blog hop. Visit and check out more!

Five Years of Quirky Christmas Cards

Five years of DIY quirky Christmas cards. These Christmas cards are not your typical perfect, smiling family. Instead, they look to make you laugh through the creative ways the entire family (kids, dogs, chickens, and all) are are put together.
FIve years of Christmas cards.

For the past five years I have been making my own Christmas cards to send out to family and friends. I enjoy putting my own spin on the traditional and I didn’t want to fall into the cookie cutter family photo and generic message that I found time and time again while perusing templates online. As the years have passed my cards have become more quirky and silly. Every year I look forward to compiling images into a new card design and every year I make sure to include the entire family, chickens and all.

Handmade Christmas card
A handmade Christmas card

The very first year I sent Christmas cards out was in 2013. Nick and I had been married two and a half years and I decided it was time to start a new Christmas tradition.

My very first card was my most complicated, I made everything by hand then scanned the completed card into the computer before sending it off to be printed. For the base, I collaged old book pages on a 8.5″X11″ sheet of paper. I then printed the words “Merry Christmas” in different fonts onto the collaged paper. Next, I ripped it up and layered it on card stock cut to the size of a postcard. I then printed one of our engagement pictures on a laster printer, and created a Mod Podge transfer of the image. Read the specifics on how to create Mod Podge image transfers here. I wanted the edges of the image to blend into the background, so I matched the color in the picture with colored pencils and scribbled on the edge of the image to blend it out. I then layered ripped up book pages, pieces of the printed image, and discolored paper on the right side of the front to create a space to put text. I did the same on the back of the card to create another space for text. Once the collage was done, I scanned it into the computer. I then used Photoshop to add the words on the front and back.

When my creation was finally complete, I sent them off to a local printer and had them printed out postcard style, with the image on the front and back.

For Christmas 2014, I did more digital editing on the front of the card, while I kept the collaged look on the back. For the back, I once again printed a sheet of paper that had “Merry Christmas” repeated. I glued this to a postcard size base. I then ripped up book pages and off-white paper to create a space for text. Next, I cut out pictures of our two puppies and 4 chickens, a new addition to our household. I glued the cut out images to the back then scanned the image into the computer. Once the image was scanned in, I used Photoshop to add the text.

For the front of the card I used another picture from our engagement photo session. I added the green scribbles using the paintbrush tool in Photoshop. I then scanned in a strip of ripped up book pages with a strip of off-white paper glued on top. I took the image, removed the background, and layered it on top of the green scribbles. I then added the text on top.

Once Christmas 2015 rolled around I decided it was time to move away from the book page collage look and try something new. Both the back and front were completely done using Photoshop.

For the front I simply added text on top of a picture of our newborn son, Cooper. For the back I added text around one edge of our family photograph. I added pictures of our chickens and puppies on the right side, to help balance out the text. For the animal pictures, I used a magnetic lasso to cut them out, then removed the background. If you save a file as a .png, it will keep the background transparent when you add it to another file. It took awhile for me to cut out each animal head, but the end result was worth the time.

Once the images were complete, I send them off to my local printer. I did have an issue with the text being cut off, a hard lesson to learn. For future cards I tried not to put the text so close to the edge.

The Christmas 2016 card is still my favorite to date. I love the simple, yet quirky look. Like my 2015 card, I layered text on top of a picture in Photoshop. For the back, I cropped pictures of all our chickens, dogs, and Cooper to squares and converted them to black and white images. It ended up being the perfect number to fill the space. Our little family grew between 2015 and 2016 from 4 chickens to 11, 2 dogs to 3, while our child count stayed at one. With so many new members of our family to include, it was a bit of a puzzle to work it out. On the right side of the card I included another human only family picture. There was just enough space between the two sections of pictures to include the text.

This year, our family once again grew with the addition of baby girl Kennedy. I love this card mainly because of the amazing Santa picture, thanks to Jeff Roffman. I wanted a picture with Kennedy, Cooper, and Santa on the front, but the picture of Cooper and Santa was too priceless to not include it. I opted to make it the main picture, and added a smaller circle cropped image of sweet Kennedy snoozing with Santa. Needless today, neither child told Santa what they wanted this year. The circle picture and text were both added using Photoshop.

On the back I once again ventured into the world of picture cut outs. I once again used the magnetic lasso tool in Photoshop to remove the background of pictures of all our chickens and pups. I wanted it to look like they were sitting behind Nick, so I layered one version of our family photo in the background, added the animals, then layered another family picture on top, with the background cut out where the animals were placed. I then added a transparent white rectangle on the left and layered text on top.

In addition to Christmas cards, I have also designed my own birthday and shower invitations. I have plans to create a post about all the crafts I did for Cooper’s first birthday. Be on the look out for that in the near future. The bottom image is a shower invitation I designed for my brother and sister-in-law. I created blog posts about a fabric tassel and personalized photo banners I made to decorate for their shower.

Check out my other Christmas crafts below:

Merry Christmas and happy holidays! Thanks for checking out my blog post about my annual Christmas cards. Help me spread the word about Christmas crafts by sharing on your social media site of choice. Thanks for stopping by!

Five years of DIY quirky Christmas cards. These Christmas cards are not your typical perfect, smiling family. Instead, they look to make you laugh through the creative ways the entire family (kids, dogs, chickens, and all) are are put together.

Baby’s First Christmas Ornament

We welcomed baby number two, sweet Kennedy Elise, into our family on November 21st, 2017. Cooper was born almost exactly two years prior, on November 12th, 2015. After Cooper’s arrival, I realized I needed to get a “baby’s first Christmas” ornament for him. After a great deal of research and browsing, I came up empty handed. All of the ornaments I found were either too cheesy, too frilly, or too cookie cutter. I decided that rather than buying something pre-made, I needed to put my craftiness to use and make my own.

I found a beautiful, handmade glass blown ornament from an Etsy seller, which was much more my style than anything I had seen up to that point. Once the ornament arrived, I painted Cooper’s foot, pressed it to the ornament, and wrote the date. In less than five minutes (not including baking time to set the paint) his personalized ornament was complete. I blogged about the process here.

When Kennedy was born, I decided it was time to plan for her ornament as well. I found another amazing Etsy seller and purchased this glass ornament from Oregon. I didn’t want the standard pink just because she was a girl, and instead purchased this beautiful iridescent ornament. Once it arrived, I collected my other supplies: white paint (choose a type that sets on glass when baked in the oven), a medium sized paintbrush, a thin paintbrush, and a baby foot.

STEP ONE:

Wait for your sweet angel baby to fall into a deep slumber.

STEP TWO:

Paint the bottom of the foot using the medium size paintbrush and quickly press it to the ornament.

STEP THREE:

Clean up any smears, etc. and add the birthday using the thin paintbrush.

STEP FOUR:

Follow the instructions on your paint bottle on how to set the paint on the glass surface.

Hang your ornament and enjoy!

STEP FIVE:

Get those sweet baby snuggles.

Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog! Help me spread the word about craft projects, Christmas cheer, and all things artsy by sharing with others. Thanks for stopping by!

Check out some of my other Christmas crafts below:

A Felted Christmas: DIY Christmas Garland

There is nothing I love more than a holiday craft project, and every year I look for a new craft project to add to my Christmas decor collection. After pulling out my hand me down fake greenery garland from the mid 1990’s, I decided it was time for an upgrade. A do it yourself Christmas garland was bumped to the top of my craft to do list.

FELT GREENERY GARLAND

I love the look of crafty and homemade (while still looking well made) decoration. For me, felt embodies that look. For both my greenery garland and ball garland, I selected felt as the base material.

SUPPLIES:

  • Two different shades of green felt
  • Scissors
  • Thread
  • Sewing machine (optional, although recommended)

HOW TO:

STEP ONE: Cut strips of the felt into 1/2″ wide sections. The length doesn’t matter, although you want it as long as possible to save time connecting pieces together. The strips of fabric will serve as the base to connect the felt leaves to, to create the garland.

Select one color felt to use as the base, or alternate between the two colors.

STEP TWO: Connect the ends of your 1/2″ strips together to create one long piece. Use a sewing machine or hand sew the pieces together. The length of the garland is up to you. I created one long piece, approximately 5 feet long, and two shorter pieces, approximately 2 feet long.

STEP THREE: Cut the rest of the fabric into leaf shapes, ovals with pointed ends. For my garland, I wanted larger leaves so I cut them approximately 2 inches wide, at the wides point, and 3-4 inches long.

STEP FOUR: Sew the leaves onto the strip of felt. For a cleaner look, keep the leaves pointing the same direction, but alternate which side of the felt strip you connect the leaves to.

STEP FIVE: Hang your garland on your fireplace, around your bannister or place it on a shelf for an easy, festive look.

FELT BALL GARLAND

SUPPLES:

  • 1″ red felt balls (you can easily change the size depending on the look you are going for)
  • Sewing needle
  • Thread

HOW TO:

STEP ONE: Thread your needle, knot the end of the string, and string the red balls together.

STEP TWO: Hang your garland! I opted to spread the red balls out along the thread in order to make it stretch further. If you want a solid string, plan ahead and order enough felt balls to do that.

tip: To avoid a tangled garland use thicker thread, hemp, or similar to string the felt balls. Plan ahead and have a larger eye needle on hand. 

Combine the two Christmas garlands together to create a red, green, and festive look.

tip: for storage, wrap the red ball Christmas garland around a wrapping paper tube. Tape the ends down to keep it in place. 

Thanks for taking the time to check out my two DIY Christmas garland projects. I look forward to using these year after year and adding to them with future holiday crafts. Help me spread the Christmas cheer by sharing on your social media of choice. Thanks for stopping by.

Visual Journal Pages 26 and 27: At Least Pretend You Care…

During this period in my life, my visual journal pages often focused on my discontent with the school I was teaching at. After three years, I felt like I was becoming a bit jaded. I didn’t feel like the art program was recognized as an important part of a well rounded education. I rarely saw my administrators. I would show up for work, do my job, and felt like no one really cared if I was there or what I was doing.

Although my administrators let me down over the years, my students rarely did. I did not like my enormous class sizes (35 students per Introduction to Art class), but I loved all of my students. I especially loved my Intro to Art course, because many of the students signed up to check the “fine arts credit” box in order to graduate from high school, but many of them ended up loving, or at least having an appreciation for, art. There is something incredibly special about seeing the moment that it clicks for a student. They find the subject matter or material they like best, they feel encouraged by the way their artwork is developing, and they suddenly put in the time and effort to their project because they truly care about it.

With 35 students per class, it was nearly impossible for me to display every project for every student in the school. Instead, I would select the top examples from the class. Although this may have singled out some, I felt it gave recognition to the students who worked for it and deserved it.

Every year, one of the major  projects my students create is a portrait drawing of their personal hero. It can be a celebrity, family member, politician, the choice is theirs. Every year, many of the students are overwhelmed by the prospect of having to draw a person realistically, but every year I am blown away by the results. This year was proving to be no different, and I selected 8 drawings to display outside of the school library.

The following day, one of the students whose work was displayed came into class with a concerned look on his face. His drawing was no longer hanging in the hall. I assumed it had fallen off the wall, had been picked up by a teacher, and taken to a safe place. But after trying to track it down, I began to realize someone had taken it. This student had worked incredibly hard on this piece. He was so proud of the end result, his work was selected to be displayed, and instead of creating a sense of pride, he was let down. His artwork was gone.

I immediately went to my administrators. Items were stolen regularly, the school had cameras, they could often track things down. But instead of finding help and encouragement I was told there wasn’t anything they could do. There was no point in screening the cameras, it seemed like they didn’t even care.

I felt completely helpless. I had a devastated student, an unsupportive administration, and an unfair theft. I was fed up but I could do nothing about it. My sweet student accepted the fact that his drawing was not coming back, and he moved on. But I know how much he cared.

Even if you can’t do anything… at least pretend you care…

SUPPLIES

  • Visual journal
  • Scissors
  • Printed pages with text
  • Watercolor paint
  • Brushes
  • Salt
  • Printed images
  • Black paper
  • Magazines
  • Rubber cement
  • Xacto knife

HOW TO

When I began working on this visual journal page, I decided fairly early on to create two spreads that tied together through a cut out. That would show two sides of the story. the missing artwork and my ever growing discontent with my administrators.

I started with the artwork display. I printed out a few sheets of paper with the text “even if you can’t do anything… at least pretend you care…” I then added a hint of color using watercolor. While the watercolor was still wet on the paper, I sprinkled some salt on top. The salt absorbs the water, which pulls the watercolor pigment around the salt grains. After the paper dries, you wipe the salt off, and it leaves a speckled pattern. This was done in an effort to create a cinderblock look. I then cut up the paper into rectangles and glued them into my book, leaving a small space between each “cinderblock.”

Next, I printed the actual artwork that was on display. I cut them out, glued them to a black sheet of paper, then cut them out again leaving a thin black edge around the artwork. This mimicked the look of mounted drawings. I placed the artwork in the same formation as the display, leaving a blank black rectangle for the one that went missing. I then used an Xacto knife to cut out the rectangle to tie to the next page.

On the next page, I decided to create a very dark look. I found magazine pages with black and grays and ripped them up into smaller pieces. I then glued the pieces down, going from dark on the left page to light on the right page, using rubber cement.

I then printed a larger version of the text, “even though you can’t do anything… at least pretend you care…” I did the same watercolor and salt treatment to the paper, then cut it into a strip once it dried. I glued the text to the page so the “at least pretend you care” text overlapped the lightest section of the background.

CHALLENGE

Create a visual journal page that utilized two spreads in your book (a spread is two facing pages).

Need more inspiration? Check out cut out pages about book oddities, furniture, and fortune cookies.

Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog! Help me spread the work about visual journals, art, and crafts by sharing on your social media website of choice. Thanks for stopping by!