Prints of Plants

by Michael Porter
Printmaking is a multi-step, and potentially messy, process that artists have practiced for many years. Art Specialist Alli Flores has her 3rd-graders working through the steps to produce some fantastic art!
"We were learning about Florida and our natural habitat, so we looked at real plants we have around campus," Ms. Flores said. "We practiced drawing them in our sketchbook."
These drawings formed the basis for the leaf patterns the students used for designing their prints.

Eager young artist Arjun described the process: "Basically we had a paper -- a white blank piece of paper. We took a pen and we drew leaves and we put a piece of foam under it, and we traced with the pen three times."
This embosses the lines into the foam.
"The foam worked better for the inking proceess," Arjun continued. "We put a sort of ink after that. We put the foam piece on top of some paper, and it was like a stamp."
After the ink was rolled evenly on the foam, they placed it ink-side-down on a clean sheet of paper and applied pressure with a roller to transfer the ink to the blank paper.

Some of the students were quite astonished at the results!
Because the lines they embossed in the foam are not covered by the ink, the finished product is basically a negative of their original designs. This is quite amazing if you didn't know exactly what to expect.
Lots of "oohs" and "ahs" echoed through the room as they peeled the foam away from the paper.

After placing their prints on the drying rack, it was off to the sink to wash the ink from their foam originals. They can be used again, perhaps with different colored ink or different types of paper, to make additional prints.
Ms. Flores has very "artfully" encouraged her students to take notice of the nature surrounding us and make drawings in their sketchbook. Then, using techniques and media that is new to them, produce lovely works of art they can be proud of.
Like so many other things, visual art is part discovery and exploration. We are happy that our students have this opportunity with such a wonderful tour guide as Alli Flores.