Sunday, January 31, 2016

Valentine Printmaking Project

Valentine #1

This is a Valentine printmaking project I have planned with grade 5.

The main focus is teaching them how to create their own stamps with craft foam.

Valentine #2

Here is a second version.


- watercolour or disk tempera paint
- heavy paper or wc paper
- sticky backed craft foam
- scraps of corrugated cardboard
- black acrylic or tempera paint
- coloured pencils, china markers, sharpies
- alphabet stamps, glitter gems, optional

Using watercolour or disk tempera paint your background.

Here I'm using disk tempera and this resulted in Valentine #2.

I used watercolour paint and a little kosher salt to create the background for Valentine#1.

Set aside to dry.

Now we can work on our stamps.

Gather your materials, we need some scraps of cardboard for the base of the stamp and some craft foam.  I like the sticky back.

There are 2 ways to make a stamp with craft foam:

1st Way:
Cut the cardboard into the shape of the stamp. I then cut strips of craft foam and apply to cardboard to outline the shape. You can also cut shapes to be added like the inner heart for this stamp.

2nd Way:
Cut your cardboard shape, then trace around it on the craft foam.  Cut the shape out of craft foam.

You then use a blunt pencil and draw designs into the craft foam shape.  Push hard enough that you can feel the design marks with your fingertip when you touch the foam.

Here is a good tip I got from Traci Bautista.  Use small pieces of craft foam on the back of the cardboard to make a handle.  I use the parts where the product sticker is, I normally just throw those ones away.  You can also use the leftover little pieces from cutting out a stamp.
Use 2 layers and you'll have a good handle.

Using a paintbrush brush some acrylic or tempera paint onto the stamp.  This gives you more control than stamping into a plate of paint to load.

I always have practice paper nearby when doing a printmaking or stamping project.

Here you can see then difference between the 2 types of stamps. 

Have the kids practice working with the stamps.  Sometimes the ghost print or the 2nd ghost print turns out to be the best.

Ghost Print = the second print from a stamp without applying more paint.

When they are confident apply the stamp to your dry background.

Now you might want to just stop there but I like to take it further.

Ensure your print/stamp is dry.  I use a hair dryer to speed things up a bit.

I added some coloured pencil, some china markers, and some sharpie.

I also used a little white and silver paint that I dipped the end of a pencil into and stamped on some accents. (see finished photo)

I painted some scrap paper.

I then stamped on some letters and added these to the Valentine.

You can also add a few sticky gems.

You could also print off some text from the computer to add.

Pair it with a Valentine poem and you have a great Valentine the kids can make for Mom and Dad.


Sunday, January 10, 2016

January Pocket Project

Here is my pocket project for January.  Pocket projects are like inchies but the use an ATC (artist trading card) size, 2.5"x3.5".
I've taken the cards out of the pockets for the photo here.

Because the cards are in plastic protector pockets you can add information to the back.  A  great way to combine art and research around a subject area.

Now each ATC is a stand alone art project that you can do much larger if you prefer.

I pick up my pockets at the Dollar Store.

The mitten square was done by drawing the mittens in pencil, add a little colour, and then cut out and glue on the ATC.

I added some text printed from the computer and painted with a red wash.

The Northern Lights ATC follows the project I posted HERE just in miniature form.

The snowflake ATC is a pastel resist.  I added some glitter glue, a gem in the middle, and some white dots using my white sharpie marker.  The snowflake types were added with a white pencil crayon.

The Bonhomme ATC was made by painting an ATC light blue.

- using white paint I painted on the snowman shape
- I added a snipet of ribbon for the belt
- I used a hole punch on some black craft foam for the buttons
- I added the facial features with a sharpie
- the hat is cut from some felt
- a few dots of glitter glue finishes it off

The hockey skate ATC is a close cropped drawing of a skate.  I added a little paint and mounted it on a  blue cardstock.

The snow shadows ATC is based on a larger painting project I like to do in January.

Here is the large version.

Snow shadows always catch my eye, the bluish tinge, the way you see every subtle shadow on the white background of the snow, the diffuse winter light.  It all makes a great painting project.

You want to use watercolour paper.  It's expensive but you only need a 140lb for this project.  There are also some good 90lb papers out there as well.

Tape off your edges.

My paper is upside down here as I have an incline on my painting table and I want the darker colour to be at the top, (the bottom in this picture).

I want some snow action in the sky so I add some salt.  I'm using kosher salt as it gives me the best result.  You want to sprinkle it on before the wet sheen of the paint dries.

Let the sky dry and remove the salt by brushing it away.

This shows you the salt effect.

I add some snow shadows in my snow drifts.  I'm still working upside down here.

You want the tops of snowdrifts to be pristine white.

I mix a dark brown and use the edge of my large flat brush to add the tree limbs.

Now my painting is right side up.

I add some shadows from the trees.  The large tree has a shadow that crosses a dip between 2 snow drifts so I need to make a jag in the shadow to make it look realistic.

Let dry and remove the tape.

See you next time.


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.