Saturday, July 7, 2012

In the Style of Lichtenstein

I was recently in Chicago where I was able to take in the current Roy Lichtenstein: A Retrospective exhibit at The Art Institute.

It was terrific and helped give me, my kids (and husband) an overview of his work as it progressed. After returning home I updated my Lichtenstein project for kids.

By taking a single panel of a comic and making a very large canvas painting, Lichtenstein had you focus on the way the image had to be portrayed based on the limitations of the printing process. Specifically the Ben-Day dot.  Comics had to be produced in large quantities and rapidly, colors were limited, shadows and highlights were bold, and there were strong outlines.

Most of his work was adapted from actual comic panels which he would then alter as he saw fit.

The dialogue balloon provides another avenue for interpretation.

Here is my sample based on a favorite vintage cartoon character "Nancy" by John Stanley.

UPDATE: Thanks so much for Beverly for letting me know I misspelled the first was one of those days!

Here is one my son did a few years ago.  It was done in marker however after seeing the Lichtenstein exhibit I really feel paint is warranted as well as varying the size of dots thru the piece.


- wc or heavy paper
- art board
- liquid tempera, acrylic, or disk tempera paint
- skewers, pencils, spoon handles, anything that will make a good "dot" imprint
- comic reference material
- magnifying glass, photocopier
- pencil and eraser
- fine and medium black sharpies
- tacky glue

Find some reference material.  Old comics are great to show to the kids as they still have Ben-Day dots in the composition that are visible with the naked eye.  Recent comics no longer have this.

Use a magnifying glass or blow up one with a photocopier for further investigation.  Lichtenstein was emphasizing this component of the printing process of the time.
Tape down a piece of wc or heavy paper to an art board.

Incidentally an art board is a rectangle of masonite that is about 16" x 24".  I buy them at Home Depot or your local lumber supply store.  The masonite or MDF is 1/4" thick and comes in a huge 8ft sheet.  One sheet can be cut into 12 art boards and I just get the Home Depot staff to do this for me on their fancy cutting machine.  Every Fall I get 24 cut for school and I now have stockpile of close to 200 as they last for years.

Sketch out your panel in pencil.  I sketched a combination of panels which I close cropped.

Because we want that "comic" look paint in the heavy black sections.

Don't worry about outlining as we will add this later in sharpie.
To continue with that "comic' look we want to limit our colors. 

Lichtenstein used alot of bold primary colors (blue, red, and yellow).

Paint in a few of these areas.

For the rest of the painting we want to focus on those dots.

Using the ends of skewers, paintbrushes, pencils, etc. add dots.  Here I'm even adding some on top of the red bow I painted.

Now in an old comic the flesh tone would be made up of different colored dots but because we have blown this panel up I'm going to use flesh colored paint for mine.

You want to closely pack in these dots so your characters don't look like they have the measles!
I'm also adding some large dots to the background.

Lichtenstein liked blue dots in his backgrounds.

Let the dots dry and then using a medium sharpie put in those bold outlines.

For the dialogue bubble measure out a piece of paper that will fit in the space you want.

Use a ruler and pencil in lines to write your dialogue on.

Add the text in pencil first and then go over with a combination of fine and medium sharpie.  I think it looks more like a typical comic this way with some variation in the width of the line.

Cut out a balloon and outline it in black.

Now your text can be taken straight from the panel you are using or you can come up with it on your own.

Social commentary is up to you and I'm sure with older kids you can see many extensions to this activity. Although Lichtenstein never took himself to seriously in this work.
Glue into place.
That's it.

Have a good weekend everyone.

1 comment:

  1. Marshelia WilliamsJuly 7, 2012 at 4:40 PM

    What a great idea! I love lichtenstein, consider this borrowed for next year.