Tuesday, April 2, 2013

4th Grade Animal Printmaking (The best printmaking project I have ever done!)

Let me start out by saying this has been one of the most successful and visually stunning projects that I've ever done with my students. It is definitely the most exciting printmaking project that we've ever done at Thomas. I wrote the lesson and went into the project thinking that it would probably be pretty good. I told my students that I'm absolutely blown away by the results of their talent and hard work. This lesson is a keeper. 

My previous 4th grade printmaking lesson was decent, but not outstanding. It was too similar from an art-making perspective to the Wild Things I do with my 2nd graders. This year, I really wanted to push the medium a little more by printing with multiple colors. I ended up deciding to push it to three colors and add in a little vocab by also bringing in the use of complimentary colors. 

Check out the lesson plan here!
Close up of the piece above. Wow. 
Whew. That was a lot of examples, right? I just couldn't help myself this time. They were all so good that I had to show them off. If you're still reading, you're in luck. I'm going to tell you how I did this project and I'm going to use pictures! Let your inner kid rejoice.
Start with a drawing of whatever you want to print. I had my kids do animal portraits. I gave them each a piece of the foam they would be printing on, then had them trace around it to give them the size of the final artwork. I then collected the foam for use the following week.
Tape your drawing over the printing foam and use a dull pencil or other blunt tool to press
down on the lines of just the outline of the subject. Take the paper off and press down
again to make sure the marks are deep enough to make proper prints. I had my students make sure they ended up with three good prints of the background on the first day of printing.
Re-tape the original drawing the following class. Press down any remaining details. Cut out the subject along the line that was pressed down last time. Now print with this piece directly on top of the original prints. I had my students use at least one set of complimentary colors.
On the final day of printing, cut out a small detail that makes sense to print in a
third color. Then, you guessed it, print this piece right on top of the original prints.
This was my demo piece I did with the materials above.

39 comments:

Hope Hunter Knight said...

Those really do look striking. They did a fantastic job with their reduction prints!

Joe said...

Yep, they're super rad Zach : )

Michelle said...

what did you do to help them draw such great animal portraits? did they look at pictures?

Michelle said...

how did they draw these animals? did they look at pictures? they look fantastic!

Zach Stoller said...

I got about thirty animal books from my school library for this project. Photo reference is huge to get kids to draw what they actually see as opposed to what they think something looks like.

Amber said...

Awesome! Thanks for sharing the process. Sounds like a project my own kiddos try this for a summer project!

SJS Art Studio said...

Fourth grade! Really exciting results. Love the layering and multi coloring and all the examples!!!! Thanks for sharing : )

Arabeth said...

This look so fun! What type of foam did you use? I tried a similar type of project with some foam I got from the craft story and it just tore up when I tried to trace my picture on it....if you know the exact brand/type of foam you used that would be great. Thanks!

Zach Stoller said...

Arabeth,
I used a product called Scratch-Foam made by a company called Scratch-Art. I've had kids tear the foam in the past, but it's because they were using a tool that was too sharp. A dull colored pencil works really well, actually.

Dave Barkalow said...

I would love to do this project with some kids in my community (sadly we have no art program in our schools). What type of ink did you use and where did you get it?

Zach Stoller said...

Dave,
I used store brand block printing ink from Blick. It works quite well and is super opaque.

sallgood said...

These are fantastic! Thanks for sharing!!

Nina said...

Hi, thanks for sharing this great project! I'm teaching in an area where block-printing ink is not available. I did a printing project with styrofoam dishes and acrylic paint mixed with flour. Results were O.K, but a bit splotchy. Anyone have ideas about how to improve printing with acrylic paint, and if it would work with multiple colors? Thanks!

Valerie Dale said...

I love this! I was just trying to come up with a variation on printmaking for my 5th graders, and this is perfect! Thanks for sharing! When I share it on my blog, I will be sure to give you credit!!

Katie Dreskin said...

I just finished a variation on this lesson with my sixth graders! It was a truly awesome experience. I've been having a lot of trouble with this year's sixth grade class. They haven't been motivated or engaged at all. This lesson totally got them excited about the materials and working hard. I'm not sure if you'll be able to see these photos on Facebook, but you can try this link if you'd like to see them:

https://www.facebook.com/katiedreskin/posts/10101604520974058

Zach Stoller said...

Katie,
I'm glad you had such good success with the lesson. I'm looking forward to doing it again this spring. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to see your pictures. I'm sure the work was fantastic!

Jamie said...

Love this. How did you get the white accents around the animals? I had students print a whole styrofoam sheet in a single color first and then print their animal on top which leaves no white accents. The white really made your's pop.
Thanks.

Zach Stoller said...

Jamie- The white outline was achieved by just pressing the silhouette of the animal into the foam before the first print.

Elizabeth Ables said...

Fabulous results! How many class periods did this take? (how many minutes each?) I am not confident with printmaking so definitely will add this for 4th grade this year. Stunning results!

Zach Stoller said...

Elizabeth- From introduction and sketches through final mounting and artists statements, this lesson probably took about seven 45 minute classes. My lessons for my older kids get pretty involved. You could even simplify it a bit by going down to two colors.

Mrs Lee said...

How did you get the kids to print their cutouts so precisely onto the previous print? I would think it would be difficult to get just right-- and a lot of them would be off? But all of yours look spot on... what's your technique?

Zach Stoller said...

I'd love to tell you I had come up with some sort of crazy scheme to make it work, but I didn't. I just demo each step as we're working through the printmaking process. I just tell the kids to carefully print the second and third colors. The only thing I can tell you is that I have my students do three total prints, then they mount their best two for their final piece.

Ms Novak said...

BEST EVER! I jumped into this with my fourth graders and it is going so well!!!! I can't even express how wonderful these look. Thanks for explaining how you did it. I will make sure to link back to you when I blog about it.

Zach Stoller said...

Thanks Ms. Novak! From following your blog, I think our teaching styles are pretty similar. I'm glad you like the lesson so far. I'm looking forward to seeing the finished work!

Cindy Cooney said...

This IS the BEST printmaking project! Thank you!

Cindy Cooney said...

This IS the BEST printmaking project! Thank you!

Tiffany said...

I've been meaning to stop by and thank you - I did this with my Art class last year, combined Grades 1 through 6 (truly!) and the results were just gorgeous! One of my favourite projects ever.

kharrel said...

I did this project two years ago and am wanting to do this again. My question is, how did you manage the ink and brayer system? I had them wait their turn, stand in line and helped them put the ink on their block and it took a long time. Just wondering if you do this step differently.

Zach Stoller said...

I set up six ink stations throughout the room. Students ink their own foam and are even allowed to add additional ink if the station is running low. I do a pretty thorough demo first, so that helps. I never have had to ink somebody's plate for them. I also start printmaking in 1st grade, so by 4th it's pretty familiar. Good luck with the project!

Anonymous said...

Excited about trying this project with my Art Camp. Can I use acrylic paint for the printing process? How did you get the first layer? Did you brayer ink on your base foam with the impressed outline first? What is the material on which you are printing--foam or paper? Karen

Karen Fehr said...

Would acrylic paints work for this project

Zach Stoller said...

I haven't ever tried acrylics with this type of printmaking. I don't think they'd work as well as block printing inks, but they may still work. It would be worth trying at least.

My students did the basic outline for the first print. Check out my detailed step by step pictures at the bottom of the post. We just print on white drawing paper. Hope that helps!

Marina Ostrowicki said...

Beautiful project and wonderfully executed! Are both colors done at the same time? I noticed that the detail lines and background is on one color while the animal is in another- just wondering if this was added by hand on the foam in a single step or if the second color was printed on top of the first layer.
Thank you for posting this and for your time!

Zach Stoller said...

It is printed three separate times. If you look at the bottom of the post, I included images of the foam before I did each print. The color builds each time. Thanks for the compliment!

Audrey said...

Great results and process!

I'm preparing for a printmaking series. Trying to piece together a good group of lessons to do for a 6 week session (1.5hr classes) that will give them a thorough experience with printmaking. Ages about 10-16 yrs. I like the layering of this lesson (separate prints for different colors).

I think this will be added. Thank you!

Rachel said...

How did the students cut the animal shapes out? Did they use scissors or exacto knives, or did you help? Thanks!

Rachel

Zach Stoller said...

Rachel- They used scissors. Super easy.

horsecrayzee said...

These are gorgeous. I'm writing a grant to try to get some of the materials paid for and wondered how many students you taught and approx how much ink? Thanks for sharing, especially the detailed lesson plan.

Zach Stoller said...

Thanks! I usually have 100-125 4th graders. I used 6x9 foam (cut in half from a 9x12 piece) which probably cost $30-40. I set up 7 ink stations and typically go through 10-12 tubes of block printing ink. I like Blick's store brand. It's good quality and actually made by Speedball. I'd say the whole project cost around $100. Good luck!