Thursday, September 12, 2013

"Painted Lady Butterfly"

This whole school year I'll be teaching woodcut printmaking to middle schoolers in Philadelphia through the Wagner Free Institute for Science's SNAP after school program. Specifically, the kids will be making small woodcuts of insects.

In preparation, I made this little 4x4 inch woodcut of one of the painted lady butterflies that keeps hanging out in my front yard. I picked the image, drew it on the block, carved it, and printed it in an edition of 4 all in the span of 2 hours today. I did this just to see how fast I could do it, because if I can't do it in a couple hours, the kids won't be able to do it in the total 5 hours they'll have allotted to them.

I am reminded of some wise words from a fellow teaching artist who worked with me at the Mural Arts Program. He said that if we were asking the kids to do something creative that might take us a long time, the kids would do it in 2 minutes. But that if it was something technical that took us 5 minutes it would take the kids at least a half hour. The more creative part of this that would have normally taken me a long time is the thinking through the image itself and then drawing it. So instead I just cropped a section of a photograph I took and copied it onto the block, which took about half an hour. The kids will have an hour for that part. The actual carving and printing (the technical part) took about an hour and a half, so it might be pushing it to expect the kids to be able to do that part in just 4 hours, but if I keep them focused and help the more meticulous students, I think we can pull it off.

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