Wednesday, March 9, 2016

printing pixels

The 4th graders are working with texture this week. I recently discovered the work of Los Angeles based artist Jason Williams (REVOK) and I know his work would hook the kids in... big time!

After a quick review of our Kadir Nelson inspired action scenes, I introduced the day's lesson by saying that even though the 2 projects would look a lot different, both would be very colorful.

I share an online article about REVOK's work and journey from well known and respected graffiti artist to well known and respected abstract painter. In an any school his work and story are engaging, but in an urban school the "draw" is even stronger. The kids are familiar with neighborhood tagging and wall works, so there has been some interesting dialogue about wall works on public and private property.

We look at several of his pieces from the recent past and discuss his use of geometric forms that give some of his work a pixelated look.... another HUGE draw for many of the kids. We see how symmetry is present in many of his works as well. There is also a strong textural component to his work, wither by reusing found items or by altering the surfaces of new materials.


Our goal, after talking about the elements present in REVOK's work, is to create a small abstract piece that shows an understanding of symmetry and that is made by altering the texture of a styrofoam plate.

In order to assist students with the pixelation of their image, they each have a 6x6 sheet of graph paper to work out their shapes and compositions. Editing and revisions happen here too. We use a piece of scotch tape to fasten the paper to a piece of styro. We trace the image completely on to the plate. The tape allows us to check our hand pressure and to make sure we have everything traced. No tape equals a pain to realign the two.

We are using both wide and thin water soluble markers to add color to the plates. Color choices are wide open. We review how to hold the markers and plate to keep the color on the plate and not our hands and fingers.

The image transfer, the printing, is done by spraying a piece of watercolor paper with water and sponging it even. Paper is placed on top, rubbed firmly, and boom- the magic of the print has occurred!

The kids have been very enthusiastic about this process and project. WE are wrapping up the activity by reflecting on how our work compares and contrasts with REVOK's.


  1. Super lesson! I am totally stealing. My students are obsessed with Minecraft. Did you require it to be an abstract design?

    1. Thanks Marcia! The image did not have to be abstract. The artist's work was, as were the examples I modeled, but there were students who did birds, skulls, faces, etc that came out sharp as well.

  2. I love it! My 4th graders just finished a pixel paper weave and we are printing in the next unit, you've inspired me to keep the pixel theme going! Thanks!