Every once in a while we like to introduce our young artists to an important historical artist. This summer in our Printmaking week of summer camp we made an introduction to Jasper Johns, who used letters and numbers in his paintings and prints. It's important to us that the children still use their own voice in making when we create works inspired by another artist. That way they can get a feeling for the technique all the while learning about process and art history all at the same time. Looking and making go hand and hand.
We began by creating a surface to print on. Jasper Johns paintings are so lush with color and texture that I wanted to mimic that lushness by layering the prints with collage. The kids created the collages by choosing from many textured and colored decorative papers.
The kids then made their own printing plates using colored flexible foam sheets, cutting out whatever number or letter they wanted. Some chose to spell out their whole name in different shaped letters and some chose a favorite number. By cutting out the the foam and gluing it on cardboard made it easier to glue the shapes down backwards and talk about how all stamps and printing plates are mirror images of what is printed.
After everything was dry the kids were ready for printing.
Using water soluble printing ink the kids chose between 3 colors, black, gold and red ( I chose those colors because they are so bold and graphic and would stand up to the colorful collages). Pieces of plexiglass acted as our inking plates. We used brayers to roll the inks from our inking plates onto our printing plates.
The result were these layered and lush prints. The kids could see how the different inks on the different collages created a variety of artworks even though we used the same printing plate.
I often wonder when we do these types of projects inspired by well known artists what they might think of the work.
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