Students will …
* learn about the Pop Artist Andy Warhol by reading a fact sheet and viewing examples of his work.
* apply drawing skills to trace photograph of face and transfer to surface of printmaking rubber.
* use cutting tools correctly to remove areas of printmaking rubber intended to be white in final print.
* apply printmaking skills to correctly use a brayer and baren.
* apply cutting and gluing skills to assemble final presentation of prints.
* Face photographs from magazines
* Tracing paper
* Printmaking rubber, cutting tools, bench hooks, brayers and barens
* Fine-tip permanent black marker
* Black printmaking ink
* Construction paper (white and colors)
* Glue sticks
Pop Art has always excited my fifth-graders. To see how artists like Andy Warhol take common, recognizable objects and turn them into works of art is intriguing. I began this lesson by offering background information on Warhol’s life in Pittsburgh and his eventual move to New York City. We discussed his education at the Carnegie Institute of Technology and his emergence as a creator of Pop Art. I displayed examples of Warhol’s work such as his famous Campbell’s[R] Soup Cans, the Brillo[R] Soap Pad Box Sculpture and the multiple photos of Marilyn Monroe.
Using the latter as the inspiration for our printmaking project, we discussed how this medium allows artists to duplicate an image multiple times. I distributed a picture file of magazine photos showing rather large close-ups of faces. Many fashion magazines, especially those advertising cosmetics, are filled with these photos. The students used 4 1/2″ x 6″ tracing paper to trace these photos, carefully including as much detail as possible. The students were encouraged to make several tracings so they could choose the one they preferred for their final project.
I prepared a soft rubber printmaking material (known commercially as “flexicut” or “softcut”) that I order in 12″ x 18″ sheets by cutting each sheet on my paper cutter into 4 1/2″ x 6″ pieces, the same size as the tracing-paper drawings. The students carefully turned over their chosen drawing and placed it on the rubber surface, being cautious not to slide the paper and smear the image. By drawing on the back of the tracing paper, following the lines seen through the paper, the image of the face is transferred to the surface of the rubber. Students removed the tracing paper and traced over the pencil lines with a fine-tip permanent marker to seal the drawing.
Since we were now ready to use the tools, I emphasized the importance of safety and how the bench hook acts should be considered their “other hand.” The students practiced first on a rubber scrap, using a fine tool, then a wide tool. I told them to place their hand that was not holding the tool in their lap, thus emphasizing the purpose of the metal bench hook. This practice session was very important–it allowed the students an opportunity to become comfortable holding the tool and realizing the pressure needed to remove the small pieces of rubber. It also gave me a chance to emphasize safety, constantly reminding them to keep that “other hand” in their lap and to always use the tool with a motion moving away from your body.
Placing the 4 1/2″ x 6″ rubber image on the bench hook, students were reminded that areas removed by the tool would not print. Therefore, the black marker image should remain on the rubber and all other areas should be carefully removed by the tools. Students were again reminded to use the tools away from their body, turning the rubber itself around to accomplish this. As the students neared the end of the cutting process, they made a practice print by placing thin newsprint on top of the cut image and making a crayon rubbing. This produced an image similar to the finished print but gave the student an opportunity to cut more rubber away as necessary.
On “printing day,” I gave the students a color choice for paper, cutting bright colors plus white into 6″ x 9″ pieces. They were told they would each make six prints using black ink so they chose their paper colors and wrote their name on the back of each. I demonstrated the printing process using a brayer and baren. The students feverishly printed the image, immediately putting each finished print on the drying rack.
When dry, each student gathered their six prints and chose the four they felt appeared the best. They carefully cut around the edge of each print, then attached each print to a 9″ x 12″ white paper, using a glue stick. They chose a background paper measuring 12″ x 15″, mounted their grouped print on it and signed their name.
The prints were quite striking when displayed on the bulletin board and everyone wanted to know how fifth-graders could create such sophisticated art. I told them to ask Andy Warhol!
Nancy Marion teaches elementary art for the Montville Township School District in Pine Brook, New Jersey.
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