Little Hands Art: Printmaking

A little girl and her father paint

Our theme for this Little Hands Art was printmaking. The theory was that if you spread the paint fairly thickly and then scrape it with a fork, popsicle stick, or your fingers it will create spaces where there is no paint. If you then lay a piece of paper on top of the paint and press gently, lifting up the paper will reveal a reverse image, with the areas where the paint was scraped away a stark blank in contrast with the color of the painted areas. This is an activity that I do at home with my not-quite-three year old all the time. In fact, since I first introduced it about this time last year, pretty much all painting activities will inevitably turn into print making. He is fascinated by lifting the paper and seeing his designs in reverse. So I know that this is a successful activity with the age group.

A small boy mixes paint colorsHowever, this cohort of kids was far more interested in just painting, rather than making prints. I stressed to the parents that this is process art, and therefore it didn’t matter if the children made prints or not, so it didn’t seem to matter. “Just” painting was enough to entertain the younger children on its own. There was a lot of experimenting with painting with the forks and popsicle sticks, so it was still an exploratory process. One boy was far more interested in mixing the paints together to see what colors he could produce than he was in painting with them, but, again, I reassured his mother that at this age exploring the materials is an appropriate response to the program.

There were a few older siblings in the group this week, and they all experimented with the printing with various degrees of success. I think the brand of paint makes a bit of a difference, because I noticed that even the ones that I made to demonstrate the technique did not come out as crisp as the ones I make at home with my son. Also, forks (which I’ve never tried at home) did not work nearly as well as I was expecting. The popsicle sticks were a much better choice and gave a clearer line.

Painted pictures hanging up to dryThis week I created a drying station with yarn and some clothespins.  I strung it fairly low so that the children could help to hang up their work if they wanted to do so. This worked mostly well, except that there wasn’t enough space for all the artwork. I also set up the clotheslines right in front of the trash can, so that we couldn’t get to the can without climbing over the ropes, which I will makes sure to fix next time.


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