Tag: high school art lesson

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!

Fused Glass Paint: Birch Tree Dinner Plates

Birch Tree Plates

For the last two years I have been experimenting with fused glass with my high school students, and for personal use. I immediately fell in love with the puzzle like method to piecing together my designs. My high schoolers always claim this assignment as one of their favorites. The forgiving nature of glass creates a very predictable outcome (to read more about my fused glass lesson check it out here).

After I got a handle on fused glass basics, I decided to branch out and see what else glass making had to offer. In my pursuit of fusing knowledge, I discovered glass paint. It opened a whole new world of adding design to my pieces, and I have loved every minute of experimenting with it.

Birch Tree Plate Small

Glass paint enables you to easily add organic shapes and designs to your pieces. I now use glass paint to scribbles bird nests, write words, and add the thin lines to my birch tree plates.

To create my birch tree plates I begin with white glass, black and white or blue glass, and a sheet of clear glass. I cut the clear glass to a 10″ circle, then cut strips of white and black glass. I lay them on top of the clear, then cut the edges to curve along the edge of the circular, clear sheet. I alternate the white, for the birch trees, and the other color, for the background. A couple drops of Elmer’s glue helps keep the glass in place as I work.

Birch Tree Plate Back Small

 

Once the clear sheet is filled with the stripes, I flip it over, leaving the clear on top of the striped pattern. I use black glass paint to paint thin lines on the white glass stripes, to add detail to the trees. Every now and then I scribble a tree knot before moving onto the next set of thin lines.

Birch Tree Plate Large

After the details are added I place the glass piece in the kiln, stripes on the bottom, clear sheet in the middle, and glass paint details on top. I fire the kiln up once, to fuse the glass to one layer, then set it in a mold and fire the glass a second time. The glass melts just enough to take the shape of the plate mold.

To read more about the necessary supplies to start glass fusing and get my firing schedules go here. Check out these plates in my Etsy shop here.

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Visual Journal Page 30: Postsecret Projects

Visual-Journal-Page-30-Postsecret-Projects

As a teacher my goal is to create a sense of community in my classroom. Although the majority of the time my students work on individual projects, I still want them to respect, interact, and grow with each other. Often my projects focus on teaching and refining skills such as drawing, painting, and building with clay, however there is always a deeper learning goal. I try to include topics that can be personalized to each students’ interests, experiences, and tastes in order to make it more interesting and relevant to them.

Nothing makes me happier than seeing a student connect to a project. I love seeing how far they reach, how deep they are willing to go to express themselves.

While in college I created lesson plan after lesson plan, and discovered artist after artist in the process. During one of these lesson making binges I stumbled upon a very interesting artist, Frank Warren. He started a community art project by placing blank postcards all over Washington DC, in art museums, bathrooms, and handing them to strangers on the street. The directions on the card were simple enough, it only asked that the recipient share a secret on the card, and mail it back to Frank.

What was so amazing about this project is after he received his original postcards back, they continue to roll in. People began making their own postcards, and decorated them with their secrets through words, images, drawings, and collages. The art project grew, and continued on, by word of mouth. Now, nine years, five books, multiple speaking tours, and thousands upon thousands of secrets later, Postsecret is still going strong.

This project inspired me to create a dead end lesson plan, a lesson I thought I would never teach. It was interesting to research and consider, plus it fulfilled a graduate assignment, however my fear made me realize this project would never see the light of day in my classroom. This fear was solidified when my former co-worker did a Postsecret assignment the year before I began teaching with her. The secrets were put on display at a school art show and disillusioned parents, who couldn’t handle the secrets their own children held, demanded they be taken down, and shortly after they were.

My fear stayed with me for a year of teaching, until I ended up with a very special class my second year. It was an interesting group, a divided group. I had never seen cliques, whispers, or glares like I had in this class. By no means was the class out of control or poorly disciplined, it was the passive aggressive that got to me, as if they had vendettas that could only be carried out through empty smiles, double edged comments. At the end of the semester, before I lost the group for good, I decided it was time to give Postsecret a try. I wanted to show them they really didn’t know each other, if you only take a person at face value, you don’t truly know what lies beneath. I wanted to show them they still had a lot to learn before they made their final judgements.

I presented the project in all of my classes. I showed an in depth PowerPoint, shared the two Postsecret books I own, and played a couple of video interviews with Frank Warren. They were enthralled. The majority of class was consumed by flipping through the books, discussing the range of secrets, and passing out the blank cards they had to take home and confess to. I was pleased with their engagement, however the fear was still there, prepping me for the following days.

The second to last day of class the students returned, secrets in hand, and one by one they placed them into a a covered box. It was completely anonymous, no names, signatures, or initials. The completion of the assignment was based on faith alone. As the day wore on the box filled up, and the knot in my stomach grew. Christmas break was upon us, first semester students were wrapping up classes, ready to start a brand new schedule in January, and I began to prepare myself for our final critique, the big reveal of the secrets.

On the final day of school I walked into my classroom, it was dark, the sun just below the horizon, about to start off a new day. Dread slowed my trek to the box, I took a breath, and mentally prepared myself for what confessions lay inside. One by one I pulled them out, and taped them up on my critique wall. As the wall filled up it grew heavy with secrets. I felt my heart lift as I read about love for sisters, friends, and secret crushes, and my heart sank as I discovered drug abuse, sex, self mutilation, and molestation. My students, my innocent, teenagers had the deep, darks I feared most. What was I going to say, how would I lead a discussion of such disturbing truths?

My challenging class was the first to participate in the critique. I put my stern face on, ready to silence snickers, finger pointing, and whispering as soon as they walked in the door. Slowly they began to file in, backpacks thudded against the floor as they hurriedly abandoned their items and made their way to the wall. I stood and watched them, carefully eavesdropping on each conversation. Secrets were pointed out, chuckles rippled as the lighter confessions were read, faces dropped as they moved through more difficult ones. I realized as I watched them absorb the secrets of their peers I did not need to be stern, they understood the weight and meaning of this assignment. I began the critique by pointing out a variety of cards, and putting in my two sense before I handed it off to them. Once I was done talking they didn’t stop until the bell rang. I have never seen my students so genuine and concerned. Former rifts, judgements, and preconceived notions were put aside, at least for an hour and a half, as they began to scratch the surface of their classmates’ confessions.

Every class came and left, and my fear began to lift. Each student was respectful, caring, and truly appreciated the opportunity to be honest, despite what was put on paper. Once the day was done I was exhausted, excited, and sad. I was thrilled with how well the project went, and how meaningful it was, however, the weight of those secrets stayed with me. I couldn’t help but wonder which secret matched which creator, and how I could help them if only I knew. I can only hope the opportunity to release it was help in itself. The secrets were packaged up and mail off to Frank Warren himself, to be confessed once again.

Since then I have yet to do this project again. It disappoints me to admit it, but the fear is still there, the worry of what I will discover. But I have to remind myself it scares me to think about it… but it’s worth it… because I think it’s so important… for you…To learn more about Postsecret visit the website here.

SUPPLIES

  • Visual journal
  • Rubber cement
  • Scissors
  • Magazine images
  • Book pages
  • White construction paper
  • Water colors
  • Paintbrush
  • India ink
  • Sharpie

HOW TO

I am in love with the way this page turned out. It is so simple, yet the background is so interesting, and I am incredibly happy with my splatter “Postsecret” logo. I decided when I began the focus needed to be on the postcards, so I choose random, but interesting images for the background. Once I chose a few images I realized I was using a lot of yellow and green, and decided to stick with that color scheme. By using only two color variations it kept the background less busy. Once I had all of my images selected I ripped them into strips and glued them down.

Next I drew out the Postsecret logo on a piece of white construction paper cut into the size of a postcard. I then took India ink and used a thin paintbrush to outline the “Postsecret”, filled in the hand, and carefully wrote “community”. I then took the paintbrush and created a small puddle of India ink along the outlined “Postsecret”. Once the puddle was placed I lowered my face parallel with the card and blew the ink to make it splatter. By getting close to the puddle and blowing away from the words I was able to control the direction of the splatter. I repeated this until the words were completely surrounded by splatters.

After the logo was added, it still didn’t look complete. I decided I needed to make it look like an actual postcard by adding all of the elements of a real postcard. I carefully drew out an American flag stamp, and the post office shipping stamps. I then painted them in with India ink and watercolor.

Next, I glued down three blank postcards, with book pages glued along the overlapping edges to help them stand out from each other, with the Postsecret card on top. Last but not least I wrote the words along the edge of the postcards with sharpie.

CHALLENGE

Submit your own secret to Frank Warren (go here for more information) and then create a page about the secret you sent in, without revealing what it was.

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Art Lessons: The Tape Person Project

This is a project I have done twice, and it was very successful on both occasions. I love it because it introduces the students to installation art, without taking over too much space at school, and the students love it because they get a life size replica of themselves. The only issue I have faced with this project is the amount of tape required. It takes a TON of packaging tape. I would estimate 10-15 rolls of packaging tape per sculpture. After checking prices at office stores, and even dollar stores, I decided to order from an online company. In the end I went with, boxforless.com, and got the tape for about $0.60 per roll. I hope you have the finances to do this project, because it really is a great project for Sculpture I or II.

SUPPLIES

  • Packaging tape
  • Scissors
  • Students
  • Fishing wire (to hang)
  • Paper clips, or something more fancy to hang with

HOW TO

1. I always start new projects with a PowerPoint of an artist exemplar, student examples (if I have them), the steps, and my expectations/grading. I like to give the students all of the information up front, that way there is no miscommunication, although with high school students there is always some form of miscommunication. After I present the project I also add the step-by-step instructions to my board. My theory is by presenting the information to them verbally and visually, through my PowerPoint and on the board where they can reference it during class, there should be zero missteps. You would think this would be fool proof… but get ready… many repeated questions will still await you.

  • For this particular project I decided to present three artist exemplars. The reason I chose to do this is because installation art can be used for a number of reasons. For this assignment I focused on making a person aware of their space, Richard Serra was the exemplar for this, making a person aware of a particular part of their surroundings, Andy Goldsworthy was the exemplar for this, and making a statement about the location, Claes Oldenberg was used for this. I typically have a slide with basic background on the artist, followed by images. Whenever I introduce a new artist I have my students fill out a worksheet I hand out at the beginning of the year. All it is, is two columns with “artist” written above the left column and “artist info” written above the right column. They fill in general points to help them remember the artist on the sheet, and I grade it at the end of the year.
  • I followed the artist exemplars with student examples. Since I had done this project once before, I had a few images to share. I cannot stress enough the importance of photographing student work. It helps tremendously when introducing projects.
  • After all of the examples I explain the assignment and my expectations. I explained to the students they could choose any area of the school to display their sculpture but it had to some how relate to the space. Like the artist exemplars they could either focus on making someone aware of their space by the presence of the sculpture, bringing attention to a specific architectural element or part of the space, or they could make a statement about the space. The students were divided into groups of two, but if they wanted to team up with another group and have their sculptures interact that was an option.

2. In order to create a tape person you must use your own body to construct it, which is why the students need to work in groups. I tell my students to first consider what position their tape person will be in, that way they can arrange their body in that position to make building it easier.

  • The students work on building their person section by section. They wrap the packaging tape sticky side up on a part of their body, for example their forearm, and then they wrap the tape sticky side down. I recommend wrapping two layers sticky side up, two layers sticky side down, in order for the tape person to be thick enough.
  • Once the body part is wrapped they CAREFULLY use scissors to cut the tape off. I have had only one incident where a student was jabbed a little too hard and had a minor cut on his arm. I told him to tell Mom it happened in PE, and all was good.
  • Once they have all of the pieces created they have to tape them back together. First they need to tape the cut line, and then they need to tape the pieces to each other. In this step they must consider the position of the body. Is the elbow bent, is the person crouching, sitting, or standing. They can slightly overlap the sections as they tape them back together, but they must be careful not to lose the correction proportions.
  • I have mannequin heads in my classroom, which we use to create the head. Find something that will work for a head, you do not want your students wrapping their heads in tape.
  • Because you have to wrap sensitive areas, I also recommend dividing the students up based on gender. I allowed my girls to use my storage closet if they felt uncomfortable wrapping certain areas in front of the class.

3. Once the tape people are constructed it’s time to hang. I have had a lot of help from facility employees in the past, but this year I has a little more on my own. If you are hanging in high places, just be careful! Most schools have the tiles that can be moved, with the metal support bars in between. I tie fishing wire to the sculpture, and then to a bent paperclip. I then bend the paperclip around the metal support bar, and put the tiles back in place. This may sound ghetto, but it works like a charm. The tape people are relatively light and as long as you have at least two hanging points you shouldn’t have an issue.

  • If any students want their tape person standing make sure the legs are thick enough to hold the weight, put it in an out of the way spot, and prop it against a wall. I haven’t had a lot of luck with the standing people staying standing. Typically a weak point will buckle, and they turn into sitting people.

Here are examples from my Fall 2012 Sculpture I class! I hope you enjoy!

I don’t know how it happened, but someone I ended up with two groups doing upside down Spidermen in two different areas. Typically I would encourage one group to do something else, but they were both so excited about it, I let it go. The purpose of both sculptures were to bring attention to the high ceilings in the areas. When you are walking in a building you are in day, after day, you begin to forget about all of the interesting architectural details. I thought both did a great job! This sculpture was suspended from the overhang above the entrance. I love how it makes you look up and pay attention to the high ceilings.

Even though I had two Spidermen, at least they were in different areas and had slightly different positions. This sculpture was suspended from the railing. I loved how the head looked from the floor below, all you could see was a round orb until you walked up the stairs. This one is hung in the Middle School building, and of course they ate it up!

This sculpture is one of my favorites from this group. It was well made and they added the wings for an extra detail. I currently work at a private Christian school. This is my first year here, and I came from a title one public school. HUGE difference. As a Christian school we have a chapel, and this piece is placed in the chapel. The students wanted to bring focus to the purpose of the space, to worship. They placed the angel in a position to make it seem as if it is flying towards the altar, and the angel emphasizes the idea of a holy place. This group was very thoughtful with the location.

This sculpture was the only sitting sculpture. It was placed in the library, in a chair that is one of a group of four. The librarians LOVED having it, they cracked up when they saw three students studying in the chairs with the tape person occupying the fourth. The purpose of this sculpture was to highlight the purpose of the space, to read and learn.

This sculpture was placed at the end of the hallway. It was meant to make the viewer aware of their space, if you sit on the bench you may become uncomfortable with a tape person’s hand almost touching your head. I believe this one would’ve been more successful if it had hung lower, however in a high school you must consider keeping things out of reach.

The students, administrators, and faculty all love this project. It’s a great way to display art in your school, and get a lot of chatter going about your program. I found out about this lesson through one of my former coworkers, who found out about it through her former coworker, sometimes the best lessons are the ones that are stolen from others! Good luck, I hope you give it a try, and if you do send me some pictures!