Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Poppy Printmaking

As we move forward to Remembrance Day I have been trying a few printmaking projects with the students.

This one was done on a black painted background but black construction paper would work.

This one is just on plain white paper.


- craft foam, white or lighter colours work best.  You could also use scratch foam or a foam plate or container
- pencil
- cardboard
- acrylic or liquid tempera paint
- paintbrush
- pencil crayons
- paper for printing on


I really like using craft foam for printmaking.  Kids can just draw on it with a pencil, pushing hard enough that they can feel the design with their fingertips.

Scratch foam also works good and if you can't get your hands on that you can cut the middle out of a foam plate or container.

Here I just drew out pieces of a poppy.  Flowers, leaves, buds, and centres.  Adding contour and texture lines will enhance the print.

I buy sticky foam.  I cut the shapes out, peel and stick to some cardboard, cut out the general shape from the cardboard and then add a handle to the back with more cardboard.

I use my glue gun to stick on the handle as I'm impatient and want to get printing right away.

You could also use a loop of masking tape and tape the foam to the cardboard if you don't have sticky foam.  You could also tape them to the clear Plexiglas blocks if you use those for printing.

You can use printing ink if you have it but I tend to use acrylic paint.

I add just a touch of water to help it flow.  Now you could use a brayer to apply or a paintbrush.

If using a paint brush make a circular motion when painting, that way you won't get brush marks on the print.

Flip stamp over, place where you want on design and press.

The second print from the stamp, (without reloading with paint) is called the ghost print.  Sometimes that is the better print.

I work with 2 pieces of paper and sometimes I mix first prints and ghost prints together in a composition.

Here I'm giving my stamp a spritz with water before doing the ghost as I waited too long between prints.

That one turned out pretty good!

Continue printing.  I added some stems with a paintbrush.  Printed on the leaves and buds.
Finally I added the centre in black.

When the print is dry you can add some extra details and shading with pencil crayons if you want.

Another great thing you can do with sticky foam is cut it into thin strips and "draw" out your image.  I used cardboard as the base.

This will give you an outline of your  image.

See you next time.


Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Alberta Postcards

This Fall I have done a lot of these 'postcard' projects.

It's an image that would be on a tourist postcard but we make it canvas sized.

I have made similar ones for the Taj Mahal and Machu Pichu that tie into the Grade 3 social studies curriculum.  These Alberta ones tie into social studies for Grade 2 and 4.  We looked at 3 regions, prairies, forests, and mountains.

The 'Jasper' moose one is a variation of the Moose in the wild projects I posted earlier.

You can take these techniques and apply them to whatever region you are studying. It just goes to show how versatile the drywall filler on cardboard technique is.


- recycled cardboard
- drywall filler
- substrate, canvas, cardboard or hardboard
- acrylic paint
- tacky glue, glue gun for the more stubborn pieces, (adult use only)
- black scrap paper for prairie scene
- printed text titles
- textured wallpaper or paper
- photos of animals


Using your substrate to measure how large your pieces should be, cut out the parts you wish to drywall.  We used a mountain, aspen tree trunks, and a grain elevator.

Apply a generous amount of filler on the cardboard.  You need to use the brown or grey side if you are using a cereal box. The coloured side has a shiny finish that the drywall won't stick to when just all flakes off.

I leave the pieces on wax paper to dry. (6 hrs - overnight)

You may find the pieces curl while they dry just gently bend them back the best you can.  The really curvy ones will get glued on with the glue gun.

To create the hay bales we cut out circles and with the glue drew in some spirals.  Leave overnight to let the glue dry.

I use tape with the younger grades to create a STOP guideline for painting.

All 3 regions need a nice blue sky.  We used turquoise acrylic.  With the canvas we wrapped the colour around the sides and the top.
When the kids reach the tape they STOP....or at least that's the theory.

When the drywall is dry it's time to paint.

For the aspen tree trunks we just sponged on some black and grey.

For the prairie one we painted the grain elevator red.

For the mountains we painted them black and grey.  You can leave the tops white for snow or sponge on some white once it has dried.

Remove tape from canvas.  You can place it above the line to help the kids with their horizon line when painting the ground.

We wrapped the colour around the sides again and the bottom edge.

Sponge on a few clouds, this is where you can sponge on that snow for the mountains as well.

For the mountain and forest regions we painted some textured wallpaper to make our trees.  You can also use textured paper or pass it thru the crimper.

We used a piece of cardboard to stamp in some lines for all 3 regions.

For the prairie and forest it was for the grass or crops.  For the Fall season we used yellow and brown.  While you have that yellow paint out you can paint those hay bales.

With the mountain scene we turned the cardboard horizontal and stamped a few lines in white and blue for the ripples on the lake.

Cut a good tree line out of the textured paper.  I tell the kids it's like shark teeth but we want a variety of sizes here.

For the forest glue the tree line in place and then the aspen trunks.

For the mountain we glue the mountain in place first, you may have to use the glue gun for the curvy ones.

The tree line sits at the bottom of the mountain at the water's edge.

This is from another project but shows how we stamped leaves onto our aspen trees.  For fall we used autumn colours.  I have a set of unsharpened pencils that I use for this.

For the prairie, glue the grain elevator near the horizon line.  We used scraps of black paper for the roof lines and door.  I printed off the Alberta wheat pool sign.  You can email me at

if you need the logos and I can send them to you.

Glue on the hay bales.

We then added our titles that we printed off from the computer and our animals.

For the titles I added a quick paint wash for colour.

That's it.


Friday, October 16, 2015

Halloween Inchies 2015

I couldn't resist doing another inchie project for this Halloween.

Don't let the list of materials scare you off.  Just use what you're creating little works of art in a collection and they always look amazing whatever you use!


- 9  inchie squares, I use heavy watercolour paper (140lb) but you can use sketch paper, yardstick, bristol
- disk tempera paint
- acrylic paint in fall colours, white and black
- salt shaker
- scraps of paper, white, black,
- tacky glue
- black stamp pad
- little googly eyes
- crayons
- little piece of contact paper
- old book page
- little alphabet stamps
- scratch foam, craft foam, or foam plate
- sharpies, pencil crayons, gel pens, whatever you have


Like all inchie projects when I do this with a class we work on several at the same time.  While one is drying we work on the next.  When I post the directions on the blog though it is easier for me to lay it out for you, start to finish, one square at a time.

**Please note any one of these squares could be turned into a larger stand alone project**

Cut your inchie squares.  For this set I used squares 3"x3".

In the past I have used a lot of 2"x2" but I think the 3"x3" are my favourites.  Big enough for the kids to work well with.

Square #1:

1) Paint square with watery deep blue (blue tempera with a touch of black).  Before the sheen dries add a sprinkle of table salt.

2) When the square has dried brush off the salt.  Dip a paintbrush in plain water. Paint the water where you want a ghost to be and then blot with a tissue.

3) Add faces with a sharpie or black pencil crayon.  Add stamps or text printed off from the computer to complete the square.

Square #2:

1) Paint a square light green. Let dry.

2) Draw a large eye on some white paper.  Colour it in or paint it.  Outline with sharpie or black pencil crayon.  Cut it out and glue to the green square off to one side.

3) Put a little black acrylic on a palette plate, add some water to it for an inky consistency.  Using an eyedropper or a paintbrush drop some paint on the top edge of the square.  Tilt the square up so the paint drips down.  Add more as needed.


This square is based on the glue resist technique.  You could also use black glue (glue bottle with a couple of squirts of black acrylic paint added).

1) Take an inchie and paint a background.  Mine is a nice purple even though it looks a bit blue.

2) on another piece of wc paper or scrap draw a pumpkin with pencil first, adding all the contour lines.
Go over the lines with a bead of white glue.  Lay somewhere flat and safe to dry completely.

3) When dry paint in the pumpkin go right over the glue lines.

4) When the paint dries cut out the pumpkin and glue to the background.

Square #4:

This square could be any silhouette. I just like this psychedelic skull effect.

1) Paint square with radiating rings starting with the lightest colour and ending with the darkest.  Set aside to dry.

2) If you have a spooky punch you can use it or cut a silhouette shape out of black paper.  A Jack-o-lantern woks well.  Glue on top of square.

Square #5:

This square is just so much fun!

1) Cut a square out of black paper, 3"x3"

2) Using a piece of scratch foam, craft foam, or a foam plate cut another square the same size.

3) Using a blunt pencil draw your skeleton, not too many details, simple works better.  Make sure you are pushing hard enough to make an impression that you can feel with your finger.

4) Paint the foam with acrylic paint that you have added just a touch of water to.  White is nice but you could also use orange or light green. Place the foam paint side down onto the black paper and give it a quick rub with your fingers, lift and you have an amazing print.  You can also try to do a "GHOST" print, that's just a second print without adding paint on another piece of paper.

Square #6:

1)  On my computer I made a page of text of spooky words.  I printed it out and then traced around my inchie square on top of it.  I went for a diagonal.  Cut out and glue to your inchie square.

2) Paint yellow with disk tempera.  Let dry.

3) Out of some black paper I cut a semi oval and a circle.

4) I glued these in place and then cut a hat out of some extra painted paper I had.

5) With white and black sharpie or pencil crayon, or gel pen add details.

Square #7:

1)  Take an inchie square and draw a pile of pumpkins.  Have them overlap here and there and make one a jack-o-lantern.

2) Using crayons or pastels go over your lines.  Add the contour lines of the pumpkins.

3) Paint with watery disk tempera.

Square #8:

So I kept seeing this one all over Pinterest and thought it would be cute as an inchie.

1) Cut a square of black paper 3"x3".  Cut a bat shape out of contact paper, peel and stick on the black paper.

2) Using acrylic paint in Fall colours and the end of a pencil stamp the colour all over.

3) When the paint dries gently peel away the contact paper to reveal the Bat.

Square #9:

I saved the best for last.  This is based on this project of mine.

1) Paint your inchie square a stormy blue. (blue with a touch of black).  Set aside to dry.  Paint a few buildings on the old book page, let dry.  Cut out buildings, add some windows with black pencil crayon and glue on your background.

2) Using a stamp pad stamp on the body of the giant spider.

3) Add the 8 legs with paint and glue on 2 little google eyes.

Glue all the squares onto black paper when they are dry and you have a nice collection.

If you still want more inchie craziness check out my past projects.

Halloween Inchie #1
Halloween Inchie#2
Fall Inchie #1
Fall Inchie #2


Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Owls in the style of Paul Klee

It seems every year I do a Fall owl project.

These owls are inspired by Paul Klee.

This one is on hardboard but you could use cardboard.

The wings are made out of corrugated cardboard and the beak is recycled foam.

You can also do a full paper version, this one is in the art journal.


- substrate, can be hardboard, masonite, cardboard, canvas or paper
- gesso for priming, optional
- acrylic or tempera paint
- corrugated cardboard
- recycled papers
- glue


If you wish you can prime your substrate with gesso.

Take a piece of recycled paper, this is a large book page, paint with the colour you want for the body.

I also painted a red one for the head.

I painted the corrugated cardboard in shades of brown.  This will be for the wings.

I cut a beak out of recycled foam and painted it yellow.

I painted the background (substrate) in shades of blue.

I try not to let paint go to waste. I'll paint pages in my art journal or plain paper to use in printmaking to use up any excess paint.

This is the orange body paper. I turned it over and sketched out my body shape. Cut it out.

Add dashes of colour to the body.

Cut out some wing shapes from the painted cardboard and add dashes.

To cut out the head I took the red painted paper and turned it over. I traced the head and shoulders of the body on to it.

I turned it upside down and cut a triangle out of the forehead.

I then painted on the dashes.

To make the eyes I cut 2 round circles out of white paper,  I used my circle punch.

I then cut one out of some leftover orange paper.  I cut it in half for the eyelids.

I cut 2 smaller circles out of black paper for the pupils.

Cut a branch out of black paper.

Glue down all the pieces.

Add some shading and details with black and white pencils.

These china markers work on everything.  I buy them by the box at Staples.

That's it.