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.
Paper Art Mash-Up
We made it through the beginning of another school year and by now you should be settled in, getting to know your new students, and on your way to having another incredible, fun, and very creative school year. This month our tips will focus on paper and collage.
The word collage comes from the French word “coller” meaning to paste or glue. Picasso and Braque started using this technique in the early 1900s when they established the second phase of cubism called Synthetic Cubism. This is when they started gluing things like wine labels, theater tickets, and an assortment of other paper and fabric based materials to their canvases.
Cuttin’ Up the Pieces Joyce Dorian from Pucketts Mill Elementary in Gwinnett County, Ga., has been doing fundraisers for years. The fundraising companies leave Joyce with many preview magnets. While she uses many of these as magnets and decorations, she has started having her students cut them up to use for collage pieces. They have great colors and designs on the small squares that help to create interesting designs and patterns in the students’ collages.
Four-in-One With her art club, Joyce also made beautiful paper art. This was a several-week project. They first created a linoleum block print, using 3″ x 5″ pieces of E-Z Cut Printing Blocks. After they made several prints with ink, they stamped their designs into clay and left a border. This clay piece eventually became a wall hanging, but first it served as a mold for paper casting. They created their own paper and pressed it into their clay pieces. The paper-casted art turned out great, and the kids saw their design through many processes and in a number of forms.
Make it Your Own Students can make their own paper the old-fashioned way by using cotton pulp, lots of water, and a screen. Or, they can collage different pieces of paper together to create a new texture for them to draw or paint on. Students can collage different types and weights of paper–rice paper, tracing paper, 80lb drawing paper and vellum, for example. They can use a matte medium to give it a finished look and they can sand it with fine sandpaper as well. If the paper is not too thick they can run it through the printer and print their digital art on their paper.
Another way to make paper your own is to soak it in strong tea or coffee. The strength of the coffee or tea and how long you soak the paper in it, will determine how dark your paper will turn. If you use printer paper, when dry, you will be able to print on it.
Photo Collage Mash-Up A collage project I just recently completed with my middle-school students used students’ personal photos. Our school does not have a photography program, so I had students take a photo with their phones and print two black-and-white copies of it. After making a number of sketches, the students had to use their photos to create a new piece of art, collaging it with other media.
The goal of the project was to have a new piece of art, not a picture with a frame around it. This project can be modified for elementary students and high school students. If you have a photo program at your school, the students can take their pictures, develop and print them, and work from there.
Angelic Relics? Jackie Henson-Dacey from Riverview High School in Sarasota, Fla., focuses her collage lessons around a theme. One theme she uses is “icons and relics.” She discusses having one dominant image and then supporting that image with patterns, repetition or movement, to emphasize the dominant image, not to take away from it.
They also discuss the use of color theory, and that with this project, less is usually best. Jackie has her students focus on analogous or monochromatic palettes. Many students still place everything in the middle–although she does go through the rule of thirds and discusses how dynamic artwork can be when these compositional strategies are applied.
Happy birthday to Pierre Bonnard (Oct. 3, 1867), Faith Ringgold (Oct. 8, 1930), Robert Rauschenberg (Oct. 22, 1925), Pablo Picasso (Oct. 25, 1881), Roy Lichtenstein (Oct. 27, 1923), and Alfred Sisley (Oct. 30, 1839). Be sure to check out Picasso’s Guitar (c. 1913) on the flip-side of this page.
Thank you Joyce and Jackie for your tips on paper and collage.
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.
If you would like to share some of your teaching tips, email them to: