Thursday, March 8, 2012

surfing with jolby.

The design duo of Josh Kenyon and Colby Nichols, aka Jolby, recently had a show of new work in San Diego. Lots of cool designs and paintings filled the walls of Subtext Gallery.

I did a project based on a couple of their works last year and was looking forward to doing a couple more this year. I love the playfulness of their designs as well as the intricate patterning that fills up many a shape in their images. The kids enjoy Jolby's work a lot because may of their images are silly. Not all art has to be serious...

The 3rd graders and I checked out a few images from Jolby's website, specifically from the section devoted to the show they had at Subtext. We discussed the use of contour lines and patterns in Jolby designs.

In the end we focused on a painting titled "Ride the Weird". Cool pic to focus on anywhere, but especially here in San Diego because we have got some of the best surf around! (Not that I know this from direct experience, mind you, because I have a "little" fear of the mighty big blue:)

Next to this image on their site Colby offered this interesting background about the image-

“When Josh and I sit down to create our first step is brainstorming and most of the time those ideas start out pretty strange. ‘Ride the Weird’ is an expression we have for when one of us comes up with a strange idea, but then we ‘ride it out’ to see where it goes instead of squashing it and moving on.”

I loved this.

In that design we noticed that motion is implied through the position of the wave and through the wavy shapes of the surfer's arms. Take that, 3rd grade art standard!

I informed the class that we would be using styrofoam plates to create relief prints based on this design. One of the things you can not do when drawing on styrofoam is erase, so I told the class that if they made a mistake or something didn't look right they would have to "ride the weird" and see where that misstep took them.

We drew the design directly onto the styrofoam. Contour lines first followed by patterns. Then we added color with washable markers. Once that was done, I misted paper wet and the students and I transfered their marker images to the damp paper with hand pressure.

If an image came out too light, students could go back in with marker to define those shapes more.

After students printed they were required to do a compare and contrast exercise with their image and the original one that Jolby created. Take that ELA standards!

Great job 3rd graders and great job Jolby for continuing to put together super fun work!


  1. D, you're killing me! SO COOL!! I did this type of printing with a Valentine's Day print ( I know, cheesy.....) but the kids loved the process and the prints. Your students did an AMAZING job on their designs and prints. I hope you send pics to Jolby so they can "ride the weird" with your 3rd graders. Outstanding work!


  2. These prints came out great! You always find the most unique sources of inspiration! I may be trying this sometime.

  3. Great idea! Thank you for sharing! I will be doing this tomorrow with my grade 6s...different topic though: Andy Warhol Inspired Pop Art, using images of endangered species :) Lets hope it works!!