Tried & True Tips for Art Teachers is a monthly roundup of advice and wisdom
from fellow art teachers, put together by the intrepid Glenda Lubiner.
“Whether he is an artist or not, the photographer is a joyous sensualist, for the simple reason that the eye traffics in feelings, not in thoughts.” — Walker Evans
We are all in the swing of things now and getting ready for Thanksgiving break—a time for a little personal and professional reflection. This month, we have some great tips for you on printmaking, photography and digital art.
Take block printing to the next level. Have students wrap a block of wood with yarn or string. Once this is done, apply the ink with a brayer and start printing. Students can print multiples of the block, either in direction or changing directions. Once the prints are dry students can add color with watercolor, crayon or oil pastel.
Variety is the spice of life! Ever try printing on something other than white paper? Here are some unique surfaces try. Glue pieces of colored tissue paper onto a white piece of paper, leaving some white spaces (use a one-to-one ratio of white glue to water).
Once completely dry, try printing with black ink. Linoleum-block prints, foam-plate prints and monoprints work beautifully on this rich-colored paper. Printing a piece of paper with bubble wrap can make a great print on its own or a surface for another print.
When doing silkscreen, tear two contrasting colored papers in half and use half of each to create a full sheet of paper to print on. In addition, for smaller sized prints, Origami printed papers are a beautiful surface.
Shot list needed. Cheryl Maney, Visual Arts and Dance Curriculum Specialist from Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools in Charlotte, North Carolina, would divide her students into “photo teams” when going on a field trip. Each team would be given a “shot list.” (The team members would need to have access to a smart phone or digital camera.)
While on the field trip, they would take photos to complete their shot list. The students would then send her the photos to print. Some suggestions for the shot list can include a person working, different types of transportation, signs, architecture and photos about the elements of art and principles of design. Once the photos are printed, give to students to cut out and make a large collaborative, collaged mural.
Tips and techniques using photosensitive emulsion. Dr. Jackie Henson-Dacey from Venice High School in Venice, Florida, has her students make some pretty cool products using the cyanotype process. Cyanotypes have become popular again and can be created using shadows. A new product, “Inkodye,” is photosensitive emulsion that can be painted onto any surface. Once painted, the surface can be prepared with objects—like a photogram. For older students, you can present the origins of cyanotypes with artist-biologist, Anna Atkins, or introduce them to Man Ray’s rayographs.
Step 1: Find some design items (the best objects are not translucent)—keys, paper cutouts, lace, pins, etc.
Step 2: Prepare the workspace (in a dim light)—dark closets work best. Inkodye reacts to ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun. Inkodye is permanent—use caution.
Step 3: Apply and blot the surface of any object: pencil bag, folder, T-shirts, etc. Snap the packet open and use the packet to apply the Inkodye onto the surface of your object.
Step 4: Expose your design to the sun (12–15 minutes).
Step 5: Bring everything back inside a dim room, and take the items off and rinse the object under the sink to reveal the design. If you are going to wear your creation—wash it twice in the washing machine before wearing outside.
Graphic design. Here are a few quick lessons that even a substitute can facilitate for a graphic design class. Once your students have the basics under their belt, they can make a self-portrait comic strip, a reverse figure-ground design or a single-letter collage. Jen Pulliam from Franklin Academy in Pembroke Pines, Florida, had her middle school students create “word art.” They also used printed pages (old books) and created images that went with the text. The designs were printed directly on the pages.
Thank you Cheryl, Dr. Jackie and Jen for your great tips.
Happy Birthday to Walker Evans (Nov. 3, 1903), El Lissitzky (Nov. 10, 1890), Wayne Thiebaud (Nov. 15, 1920). Louis Daguerre (Nov. 18, 1787), Kara Walker (Nov. 26, 1969) and Clyfford Still (Nov. 30, 1904).
Arts & Activities Contributing Editor Glenda Lubiner (NBCT) teaches art at Franklin Academy Charter School in Pembroke Pines, Fla. She is also an adjunct professor at Broward College. Be sure to check out her lesson, “Print Party Palooza!” featured on page 28.
If you would like to share some of your teaching tips, email them to: