From the Italian Renaissance to the German Renaissance, next up in our summer project on the History of Art was Albrecht Durer. My aim with this project is to give the children an understanding of different eras and movements in art, developments, expose them to different styles and different media, different modes of visual expression. Therefore, while we did look at Durer’s paintings – especially his striking self-portraits – we mainly focused on his print-making. The boys were especially impressed with Durer’s rhinoceros woodcut given that he had never even seen an actual rhino.
Then it was time to get printing. I enjoy lino block printing – though I never seem to get adequate free time in which to develop my skills – so the kids had seen me carving lino before and were, therefore, keen to have a go themselves. I use unmoounted linoleum for block printing but I had some small pieces of soft carve material that I thought would be perfect for the boys to experiment with. Although the photos don’t make it clear, they were using a guard to protect their hands from the carving tools. The boys all found the carving to be harder than they anticipated but they stuck with it and showed improvement. It was interesting watching them figure out the positive and negative elements within the carving.
My 9 year old decided to keep the design simple and just concentrate on learning the carving so he produced a smiley face.
My 6 year old wanted to create a zombie wandering through the darkness. Cleverly this meant that all he had to do was carve out the stickman zombie figure. He insisted on printing it on dark green paper so we used origami paper. I think it is quite effective.
My 12 year old is all about Minecraft (you might have noticed) so he carved a creeper face and printed on bright green origami paper. He enjoyed working on the whole print, from concept to lifting the print, independently.
My 8 year old carved a minion so he was determined to use yellow ink. The yellow ink is much thinner and more challenging to work with than other colours but we finally got a good print by using our fingers instead of the baren.
Meanwhile, I took my inspiration from Durer’s rhinoceros and decided to carve a rhino myself using a small block of lino. I borrowed my composition from an ink drawing I had done of a rhino some years ago. I needed to work the baren across the paper for longer, to press firmer, in order to get a more solid background but otherwise I am pretty chuffed with how this print turned out.
A rhino was consequently the subject of my 82nd Crazy Critter.