SchoolArts Magazine

December 2015

SchoolArts is a national art education magazine committed to promoting excellence, advocacy, and professional support for educators in the visual arts since 1901.

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STORY TELLING through Pictures I have always been an admirer of Steven Alcorn's woodblock prints. After visiting his website, I knew I wanted to incorporate his work into a project for my students. The objectives of this project are to demonstrate an understanding of contrast and balance, illustrate a text with an interesting point of view, and successfully carve and print the illustration. As a class, we discussed the objectives as we viewed several of Alcorn's works. Some great examples include Little Red Riding Hood, Swooping Owl, and Three Birds. Imagining an Image To emphasize Alcorn's work as an illustrator, I selected two books from our library: Pigsty by Mark Teague, and The Night I Followed My Dog by Nina Laden. As I read aloud, I had students write on a piece of sketch paper a list of events happening in the story. For the first pages, I mod - eled a "think aloud" strategy on how I pictured the text in my mind and how I interpreted the text as a funny illustration. As I read on, students continued imagining ways they could illustrate the scenes of the story, noting it on their lists. Once the story ended, each student chose two ideas from his or her list to illustrate on the front of their sketch paper. I emphasized the importance of their sketches having interesting points of view and connecting to the story. I talked to each student about his or her sketch, then stapled pieces of 4 x 6" (10 x 15 cm) black construc- tion paper to their sketch papers. Planning a Design Students transferred one of their sketches onto the black construc- tion paper. Using a white pencil, they shaded in and added texture to all of the areas that they wanted to carve away. This step helped students visu- alize the balance of black and white in their designs, and which parts would need to be cut away before carving into their printing plates. Printmaking Once the construction paper design was complete, students received 4 x 6" linocut plates for carving. The draw- ings were transferred to the plates using a pencil. I had a printing table set up where students brought their plates to ink when they were ready to print. The printing table had room for five stu- dents at a time; this is where they charged the brayers and inked their plates. Once their plates were inked, students returned to their own tables to press the plate with a baren and pull the print. Then they returned to the printing table to re-ink the plate. Students created three prints and submitted one for their grade. Reflections This lesson provides a launching pad for ideas by connecting them to a text and using Alcorn's work to visually illustrate the balance of black and white. Providing individual feedback for students through each stage of the process and giving them the oppor- tunity to work through design ideas results in dynamic and clever inter- pretations of the story. Emily O'Connell is an art teacher at Mill Creek Upper Elementary in Belton, Mis- souri. eoconnell@ bsd124.org N A T I O N A L S T A N D A R D Connecting: Relating artistic ideas and work with personal meaning and external context. W E B L I N K www.alcorngallery.com This lesson provides a launching pad for ideas b connecting them to a text and using Alcorn's work to visuall llustrate the balance of black and white. 28 DECEMBER 2015 SchoolArts M I D D L E S C H O O L Emily O'Connell

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