Wednesday, May 28, 2014

cacti, cacti, cacti.

I'm in the middle of my texture unit at Zamo and I'm swimming in cacti!

It wasn't originally planned that way, but I recently came across some super cool images by a variety of artists and illustrators, and to be honest, I just love those darn plants anyway, so I'm making it happen:) It's a great way to talk about our SoCal climate and to see how others interpret the cacti in different visual ways.

I'm sharing some illustrations by Mexican born illustrator Elena Boils with my 3rd graders this week. We are looking at how she implies the textures of the plants in her illustrations through line type and mark making. By doing a relief print project we can also identify how actual texture can be used to create an artwork and by doing the print on white paper, we can mimic the way Elena uses white lines to define shapes in some of her illustrations, too.

I model and break down some of the cacti shapes we see in her ills on the whiteboard attached to my smart board, so students can see my versions and Elena's at the same time. I also show them how she makes her flower pots look like cylinders. Students then practice these shapes and make a compositional sketch that is the same size as their relief plate will be. That way, they don't have to worry about scaling things up when they are ready to start on their plate. I share that cacti come in all shapes and sizes. I have one in my front yard that is over 15' tall! So, when they are sketching I repeatedly state to make at least one cactus almost as big as  their paper. I also talk about/model moving things up and down in the drawing to create more variety in their composition.

Once their sketches are done, they redraw it on styrofoam, and then add marker color. Color choices are up to them, although I do suggest not using the same color in shapes that touch each other. If students finish their print early, they may color the plate a second time and contribute it to a print triptych with a couple other students' works.

 early finisher triptychs

When I see these classes again next week, their projects will be waiting on the tables for them, so they can complete their project exit slips at the beginning of class.


  1. I suppose I should know this - but I've never done marker prints and these are lovely - do you need to spray the paper with water? Or what do you need to do to get the marker color to transfer? Just rub with hand?

    1. thanks phyl! it's super easy:)
      I spray the paper and then even out the water with a sponge for better printing consistency. We print em by hand. I hold the paper still while the kids rub and then I go over it once or twice to make sure the print comes out:)