August 5, 2016

Background and Foreground

        Last week I taught my annual summer printmaking class, and I want to share a project the kids did.  I introduced it for the first time this year, and I’m really pleased with the results.  The project was inspired by some of Escher’s work that I shared here previously, and my artists (this year all kids going into 6th and 7th grade) were to make two blocks to be printed together: one background block and one foreground block.  I showed them Escher’s pieces, plus a few others by way of explanation.  The kids had to stretch themselves a little, but got the concept well.  They made a real effort to use texture, too, which is often something kids neglect.
        I pointed out that the main focus of their piece could be the foreground block with the background block as, well, just background.  That’s what most of them did.  But another way to do it was to make the main focus the background block, with the foreground block as framing, and one student went about the project that way instead.  Finally, there was one student who made foreground and background more equal, with her tropical sunset and palm trees.
        One of the things I liked about this project was that it seemed to inspire lots of experimentation.  Most of the students tried printing with a variety of color combinations, and one made a series worthy of Monet in making color combos for every time of day.  One decided in the end that she liked one of her blocks better on its own, while another decided to carve a second background as another option to put behind her foreground block.  It was a lot of fun for the kids, and a lot of fun for me to see everything they came up with.  Several of the students asked where they could get supplies to do more printmaking at home, so I hope at least a few of them will keep with it!
        This is another of those projects that I’ve been wanting to do myself for quite a while, but haven’t yet got around to.  I have a couple of ideas marinating in my mind, and I hope to get something down on rubber before the end of the summer.

[Pictures: Elephant, rubber block print by CL, 2016;
Barn, rubber block print by NR, 2016;
Tropical Paradise, rubber block print by RB, 2016;
Desert, rubber block print by KW, 2016.]

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