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Top tip - Printmaking to break down barriers to drawing

Submitted by Education on Fri, 02/06/2017 - 11:11

From Artist Educator Ursula Kelly

Children, young people and adults can find drawing intimidating. It can be useful to start by experimenting with mark making where there is no emphasis on creating a particular image. Printmaking, in particular mono printing, is accessible to all ages and abilities.

The mono printing, ‘wipe away’ or ‘painterly’ method involves removing sections of the inked up surface. It can be printed by hand on to paper or fabric. The surface can be a laminated sheet, a piece of Perspex, aluminium or oiled table cloth. Start by rolling block printing ink evenly across the chosen surface, then wipe away areas of ink using anything from a cotton bud, to a fork or your finger nail. The different tools will create different thicknesses of lines. Place a sheet of paper over the surface and rub evenly by hand. 

The ‘transfer’ method can be done by tracing an image, drawing freehand or from observation. Start with the same inked up surface as above and place a sheet of paper over it. Draw onto the back of this sheet using different tools and varying the pressure so as to achieve a range of marks. Encourage layering, printing 2,3,4 layers over each other, each one with different marks.

Possible extensions could be:

  • Create paper stencils by cutting or tearing paper then placing these on top of an inked surface before printing.
  • Use coloured paper – a sheet of blank white paper can be daunting for any age plus sugar paper absorbs block printing ink much more quickly than cartridge paper.
  • Polytiles are easy to cut (as are vinyl blocks), cut them into shapes first and then draw on the detail before inking up and printing e.g. children working on a transport theme have a bus shaped polytile - the resulting prints are distinguishable as buses yet unique, individual drawings.