Heads Up

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Printmaking is better than Fortnite!

It’s true! The majority of Year 7 boys agree, a compliment that affirms my belief in the transformative power of the visuals arts. It’s a joy to put out the inks, brayers and paper, and challenge the boys to use their creative minds to visually communicate their ideas with the world. When students/artists/people are fully engaged in the process of creating something unique, they’re consciously in a natural state of inquiry. They ask questions, notice deeply, reflect, envision, find solutions, solve problems and so much more during the creative process. So many parts of their brains are active. Researchers are investigating how creativity in the brain works. “What this shows is that the creative brain is wired differently,” said Roger Beaty, a post-doctoral fellow in psychology and the first author of the study. “People who are more creative can simultaneously engage brain networks that don’t typically work together.” (The study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. )

It is this level of engagement that empowers Year 7 students to connect, feel proud of themselves, realize their potential, experience joy, surprise, “ah ha!” moments and the WOW! (sick) factor. The satisfaction of: selecting the perfect colour, inking up the brayers, seeing the instant impact of their choices, creating the prints themselves and not just printing something off is exciting, reflecting in the moment and making the changes instantly, connecting with their inner voice to communicate their personal beliefs makes this ancient art of printmaking just as relevant as one of the top video games.

“It is harder to win in Fortnite than making your prints look great! When you create a good print you feel happy. You feel that same happy feeling when you get a win in Fortnite.”
Arjun, Form 7 student

Form 7 Unit 2: “Printing you Passion” explores how artists express their unique personal narratives to capture their identity.

As our starting point for inspiration for these prints each artist (student) took the VIA character survey to find out more about his character strengths, printing off the top five and exploring the importance and meaning of their top five character traits. (*Select the “youth” survey). Ask your son to share his character survey with you and do the adult survey; it’s a great conversation starter. What is your top character trait?

I challenged each student to create a range of ideas giving them support and challenges to move beyond the cliche! Artists then printed the blank piece of linoleum to give them a formative experience with the inks and printing process. Artists brainstormed and explored their character strength through a range of sketches. How could you use this character strength to inspire you to create a unique work of art? Students paired and shared with others and myself to commit to the most meaningful image. They explored carving techniques and other stamps to create a final image that can be carved effectively onto a piece of linoleum.

Once carved, they printed a second layer on all 10 papers using colour theory to ensure they have contrasting colours, not camouflage. They repeated the process: carving away more and printing a third layer. Enjoy your son’s series of prints that capture this moment in his life.

Thanks to Gowri Muralidhar and Tanya Sweeney for the photos.

It’s a pleasure to teach your sons,
Nancy Preston
npreston@ucc.on.ca