Printmaking is a type of art, just like painting, sculpture, and drawing are all types of art. What makes printmaking unique is that you make a matrix, or original, that allows you to make multiple copies of the same image.
Questions for Engagement:
- Have you ever made your handprint by dipping your hand into paint and then pressing it into paper? Have you ever stamped with ink? How many times can you print the same image? These are both basic types of printmaking with your hand or the stamp being the matrix.
- Look at the artwork to the left. What do you notice about the order the colors in? What does it look like is happening?
- Josef Albers believed that colors interacted with each other when used next to one another. Would this artwork have the same effect if it was yellow, red, and orange? Or blue, red, and purple? Why or why not?
- White paper, 4 × 12 inches
- Practice paper, at least 4 × 12 inches
- Foam printing block, 4 × 4 inches
- Markers, cool colors (blue, purple, green)
We’re going to create one printing block that we’ll print several times, using different colors and turning to see what happens.
- Create a 4 × 4 inch piece of foam. You can buy printing foam or cut the bottom off a Styrofoam tray or plate. This will be your printing block.
- On your practice paper, create a design using lines. You can use one kind of line and repeat it, or you can use different kinds of lines. Your lines should fill up the entire 4-inch square.
- Use your pencil to draw lines to create a design on your foam block. Don’t press too hard into the foam, because it’s thin and could tear! Just press hard enough to make an indentation.
- Once you have drawn your design onto your printing block, choose a cool-colored marker (blues, purples, and greens).
- Color the flat surface of your printing block, but not in the indented lines you have drawn.
- Lay your 4 × 12-inch piece of white paper horizontally (so that it’s wider than it is tall) in front of you.
- Lay the printing block face-down onto your paper so that the corner and edges line up with the edge of your paper. Since your printing block is 4 × 4 inches, it’s the same height as the short side of your paper. Be careful not to move the block too much, as it will smudge.
- Holding your printing block face-down, gently rub with your other hand so that the ink from the marker transfers onto the paper.
- Gently peel the block back to see your print. The lines you drew on the printing block should appear on your print as white lines, and the flat part of the printing block that you colored should show up on your paper.
- Now, choose another cool-colored marker, and color the printing block again.
- This time, when you turn the printing block over, line up the edge of the printing block with the print that you already created on your paper.
- Holding the block in place, gently rub the back of the printing block to transfer the marker.
- Peel back to reveal the print.
- Use a third cool color to color the printing block for a third time.
- You should have one white square left on your paper. Lay the printing block face-down, and print the block onto your remaining square.
Bonus: Create a new printing block, or use your first one again and follow the same process. This time, print using warm colors like yellow, orange, pink, or red.