Tuesday, February 11, 2014

stamping out symmetry... or not.

The 2nd graders are working with value and style this week. So far, their projects have focused on realistic or figurative style. With this project they looked at abstract style in art.

I shared a painting by Arthur Eubanks, an African American artist who passed away at the beginning of the month. We talked about how in this painting, Arthur was more concerned with creating an artwork with an interesting play of shape, color, and value instead of focusing on making it look real and accurate.

We also talked about symmetry in art and nature and I wanted them to be able to recognize if it was present in the work that they were to make. This project was done as a styrofoam relief print. 

We drew out an image inspired by Arthur's painting. The first couple lines we made were borrowed from Arthur, but then students made choices of what types of lines they wanted to go in certain areas after that. I asked students to widen some lines, so they could have thin and thick white lines throughout. We also added a line pattern to one section. This was so they could see how more lines in an area would make a lighter value there.

We colored the block and then stamped it once. Holding the stamp next to the print, I asked the kids if they showed symmetry next to one another. A solid "yes" was their answer. I then asked them to think about if a second print would show symmetry with the first and to answer that question after they completed both prints. 

Students completed an exit slip when they were finished, to see if they could identify symmetry and to gauge what the favorite part of the project was for them.

Due to the nature of the stamp composition, no one had a double stamp design that showed symmetry. Most were able to recognize that, and with some guidance, could explain why it was not present. We will visit symmetry later on to reinforce this understanding.


  1. I really like the foam/marker style of printing - I tried it last year after seeing the technique on your blog. These are beauties too. What's your best advice on getting the paper evenly and perfectly damp? I had pretty good luck with a spray bottle and large clean brush to sweep the water across, however with my first graders I did all the spraying and sweeping.
    Btw, congrats on your recognition - well deserved! I always love seeing the cool stuff y'all do.

    1. Hope, I still do most of the spraying and sponging with my 2nd graders. They do the rubbing, but I do a sweep of my hand too after to make sure they have a clean impression. I give them much more control to my 3rd graders and up. Thanks for the kind words and congrats to you and your kiddos as well!

  2. I really love these Don, styrofoam prints eh? I want to give this printed look a try on a new project I'm working on. I will look into your previous post on the technique and may have more questions for you. : ) Really cool results, keep it up!

    1. thanks, jamey:) i'd love to see what you do with it! the plates are quite thin. in the past i have used the tops of to-go sushi boxes... http://shinebriteproductions.blogspot.com/2010/09/blue-kitchen.html