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T his is my favorite project!" is an exclamation I often over- hear during the process of this lesson, which connects art and science through a focus on tropi- cal environments. Students love hav- ing the freedom to experiment with doodling and design using pen and ink. They also love making personal choices with collage, torn paper, and watercolor. This project offers multi- ple opportunities for imagination and creativity with a variety of media. Investigate and Plan The first step is for students to select the foliage they will use in their com- positions. I rec- ommend a focus on tropical foliage because of the exotic shapes that offer opportuni- ties for creating patterns. Students research, select images, and then combine the images to draw their final composition on a large sheet of newsprint paper. Create and Design Using permanent black markers, stu- dents experiment with patterns inside their foliage shapes. I recommend that they first experiment with pencil, then apply the markers. I offer a variety of sizes of markers and encourage students to balance their compositions with contrasting black-and-white shapes and variety in line. Once decisions are made, the composition is transferred to heavy, cold-press watercolor paper by shading the back of the newsprint with graphite, placing it on top of the watercolor paper and tracing over the lines. Now inking can begin. Preparing the Background Layer Students can plan and prepare their background layer at any time dur- ing the inking process. They choose a color scheme from a selection of colored art paper or Japanese unryu colored paper. The paper is torn to resemble foliage growth and glued to a second sheet of heavy water- color paper. The torn paper should be glued up to the horizon line using uneven edges to appear more natural. Once the torn paper is dry, students plan colors for their sky. I recommend using acrylic inks rather than water- color. Students practice with color mixtures, then mix and apply washes to the sky area, remembering to dampen the paper before applying ink washes to create an atmospheric look. I direct them to drag these ink washes over their torn paper to unify, add depth, and create interesting edges. Students love having the freedom to experiment with doodling and design. They also love making personal choices with collage, torn paper, and watercolor. EXOTIC Debra Lott ENVIRONMENTS Connecting Layers When the pen-and-ink designs are complete, they are cut out with scis- sors or craft knives. One-quarter-inch white borders can be left around the ink designs. Students then place their pen-and-ink layers over their back- ground papers. At this time, they may 22 SchoolArts High School Studio Lesson A_pages_5_14.indd 22 3/20/14 2:57 PM