Teaching Linoleum Block Printing in Vermont

This winter Middlebury Studio School invited me to teach a linoleum block printing class.

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One block, carved and cut apart into 4 pieces. The artist separated the pieces, inked each piece in a different color, reassembled them, and printed them as one piece.

I chose Blick Readycut blocks for our projects because it is easy to carve. I wanted to the students to try making a multiple color print, like the one above, using just one block cut into pieces in order to prevent registration problems.

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I prepared for the class by doing another two color print of one of my favorite subjects: Dogs.

Even though I planned this to be a two color print,  I carved it all as one piece. It is much easier to cut it apart later.  Carving the words became very tricky- probably because my design didn’t leave them enough room.

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I often trim off any excess block beyond the design if I don’t want to bother carving it all out.

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Once the block was completely carved I used an exacto knife to cut it apart into two pieces.

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After my students created a design, reversed it and transferred it to their blocks, they began carving away any part of the block that they DIDN’T want to show in their print.

Once the block is carved and cut apart, each piece is inked using a brayer. The paper is laid gently on top of the inked block and the back of the paper is rubbed with a hard smooth object-such as a spoon or baren.

Finally comes the Ah Ha moment when the paper is pulled and the finished print revealed.

In the end my dog print was only a partial success. The carved quote part was a mess so I discarded it and added some hand lettering instead. Hand adorned giclee prints available here.

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For our last meeting I brought in large, cotton tea towels that could be printed using the blocks carved during the class. There were no rules but this was one beautiful and orderly result.

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“Painting” Chickens and Dragons with Oil Pastels

In March I had the excellent assignment of teaching about 500 students in Northern CA a new art technique.

The parameters were rather strict:

  1. It had to be FUN!
  2. Set-up and clean-up had to be reasonable.
  3. Each session would include up to 100 students and would be held in the echoing cafeteria.
  4. The project had to be started AND completed in one hour.
  5. Students would walk away with a piece of art that was basically dry and portable.
Kindergarten Chicken

She looks like she had fun!

The technique I chose to teach was Pastel blending with mineral oil.

I designed two projects to appeal to my range of ages. My 1st group was 1st graders and we started with a direct draw of a hen and chicks with the help of a document camera.

They all drew with pencil, traced with Sharpie and then started coloring with oil pastels.

Direct Draw

Using a document camera I showed how to draw a hen and chicks.

We passed out regular oil pastels and told them to color roughly-leaving areas of white paper would work to their advantage. Some followed this advice…pastels20180305_101455_resized20180305_090920_resized20180305_090828_resized

Once the chickens were colored it was time to use secret sauce (mineral oil)and magic wands (cotton swabs) to make these drawings into oil paintings.

I counseled using a different cotton swab tip for each color, but just like any other painting technique, if you want to, you can make all the colors blend together and end up with a lovely muddy result!20180305_102911With 2nd grade and older I taught them how to draw a flying, fire breathing dragon. We followed the same process of direct draw, Sharpie outline, pastel drawing, and oil painting.20180306_135157

 

These are great before and after examples showing how the rough coloring results in the smooth final painting.

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I also tried teaching the dragon to a T-Kindergarten class and saw some amazing results.

20180306_102534I love how this little guy attacks his coloring and painting with such purpose and enthusiasm.20180306_10400520180306_104541_resizedWas it Fun? Check!

Set-Up and Clean-Up Reasonable? Check!

Possible with Crowding? Check!

Started and completed in an hour? Check!

Ready to go and Portable? Check!