Monday, September 30, 2013

Printmaking Epiphany

I was a printmaking major in college (they called it "surface design" because we worked with fabric, which distinguished us as "commercial" artists as opposed to the "fine" artists in lithography & etching---nowadays art school demarcations of fine vs. commercial are nonexistent, thankfully). I digress because I wanted to make the point that ALL that my print knowledge was trumped by the decade-plus years I have spent as an art teacher. Every year, I analyze and tweak my lessons, and the one I changed the most this year was fourth grade printmaking. In the past, we have printed linoleum blocks, collograph plates, mono prints, stamps in geocache booklets, but still, I never really felt I hit the "sweet spot" with my fourth grade students. Always, I liked to focus on positive & negative space, and of course, craftsmanship, but with budget limits, being able to print repeatedly (which is what you really need to do to learn how to print) was impossible. I tried a smaller block cut from the larger ones, which made a neat framing motif, but students sort of blew off making the smaller block as nice design-wise as the larger block. Then, this year, I thought about radial printing, which necessitated cutting the blocks down to squares (keeping the small odd bits of course, those will come in handy for something, maybe clay imprinting). Then, I needed to focus the students on making a design abstract enough that it looked good rotated around a center point. This necessitated a full two weeks of designing, and I was out during the actual carving & printing. Then, the prints got dropped off at my house for grading and I was quite thrilled, because the designs looked pretty darn good! That smaller 4" by 4" block just worked out better than a 4" by 6". Printing radially revealed nice surprises design-wise, which is why I always liked "repetition" as a design element. Most of the pieces had at least one clean print out of the four, instead of having to rely on one "lucky" print. We did use a lot more ink than I would have liked, and I heard that the students would have liked to change colors, but printing with one color helped them ink better as each color has a different tackiness to it (in general, lighter colors are thinner, darker colors are toothier). We saved money by printing on sulfite instead of mulberry paper, so I think the costs balanced out. Mulberry paper is more forgiving with the ink, but I don't think anyone but me would notice the print quality difference. So, "eureka" & "yay"---keeping radial prints for next year (with a few "tweaks" of course ;).

No comments:

Post a Comment

The Sketchbook Project

The Sketchbook Project: 2011

About Me

My photo

The journey of process intrigues me and I am always changing it up.

Search This Blog