Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Printing - Fruit & Vegetable Prints with Oil Pastel

The children explore shapes and textures by making relief prints using fruit and vegetables, and then create backgrounds with oil pastels. Ages 9 to 13. Plan 2 to 3 sessions.

  • Exploring shapes and textures through relief printing
  • Making a balanced composition
  • Creating backgrounds
relief printing, balance, oil pastels

  • Colored construction paper–12 x 18 inches
  • Soft packaging foam to make stamp pads–approximately 5- x 6-inch pieces
  • Liquid tempera paints
  • Plastic plates or foam trays to hold stamp pads
  • Plastic wrap
  • Pads of newspaper to work on–one for each child
  • Fruit and vegetables (See note below.)
  • Oil pastels
  • Paper towels for cleaning oil pastels while working
Note: Fruits and vegetables, such as artichokes, onions, and lemons, have wonderful textures when cut. Apples, mushrooms, and the ends of celery stalks work well for a variety of shapes. 

First Session
  • Prepare stamp pads for printing by filling the foam pieces with several tablespoons of tempera paint. Make some test prints to be sure there is enough paint to make good prints, but not so much as to fill in the delicate lines in the fruits and vegetables. Plan one stamp pad for every two children. Cover the pads with plastic wrap to keep them moist until ready to use.
  • Cut fruits and vegetables in half and place juicy fruits like lemons cut-side down on paper towels to absorb some of the liquid.
  • Set out a variety of cut fruits and vegetables with each color of stamp pad, designating one color of stamp pad for each table. (Have the children move from table to table to change colors or let the children remain in their seats and move the stamp pads with the fruits and vegetables to the different tables.)
  • Set out the stamp pads, construction paper, and pads of newspaper.
How to Begin
  • Explain that the children will be filling their papers with prints of fruits and vegetables and then making a related background with oil pastels.
  • Demonstrate the process of relief printing. Place the construction paper on a pad of newspaper for crisp, clear prints. Gently dab the fruit or vegetable onto the stamp pad several times, explaining that only the raised areas will pick up the paint. Transfer the color to the construction paper by pressing the fruit or vegetable firmly onto the paper, holding it for a few seconds and then lifting it off in a straight-up motion to avoid smearing. Emphasize that this process needs to be repeated for each print.
  • Be sure the children understand that the fruits and vegetables must remain with their designated stamp pad so that the colors are not mixed.
  • Discuss how the children can arrange the prints to create a feeling of balance, or stability, by repeating shapes and colors.
  • Have the children fill their papers with prints.

Second/Third Session
  • Set out dried prints from previous session.
  • Set out the pads of newspaper, oil pastels, and paper towels.
How to Begin
  • In this session, the children will be creating backgrounds for the prints using oil pastels which are a blend of oil and pastel.
  • Demonstrate how to use oil pastels. For a smoother and easier application, place the paper on a pad of newspaper. Apply the oil pastels carefully around each print, pressing firmly to bring out the color intensity. Avoid going over the edges of the prints by leaving a little space around each onethe colored construction paper that shows through will add continuity to the composition. Warn the children that brushing away any loose bits of oil pastel will smear their pictures. Instead they should blow the bits away gently or shake their paper upside down. Have paper towels available so that the children can wipe clean the sticks of oil pastel as they work.
  • Explain how to create balanced background designs by repeating colors and shapes that allow the prints to stand out.
  • Have the children fill the backgrounds with patterns using oil pastels.

  • Some fruits and vegetables have very delicate lines, so it is important to not overfill the stamp pads.
  • For variety, carve designs into carrots and potatoes using linoleum carving tools or knives.
  • If the stamp pads begin to dry out, wet the tops of them with a little more paint.
  • Designs with lots of small prints may take two sessions to carefully color around each print.
  • Are the fruit and vegetable prints crisp and clear?
  • Discuss the different approaches used to balance the designs.
  • Do the background patterns help the prints to stand out?
What the children might say...
  • My apple prints are coming out too light.
  • Can I make another print on top of one that is too light?
  • I dabbed the onion on the stamp pad each time, but I can hardly see the prints.
What you might say...
  • Remember that you must dab on the stamp pad for each print. 
  • Printing exactly on top of another print is very difficult to do and usually draws our eyes to the mistake. It’s better to work with the light print as part of your design.
  • If you dabbed on the stamp pad and your prints are still too light, the stamp pad might be drying out. Let me add some paint to it.
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