As a partner project to our Goldsworthy inspired leaf watercolors, our coop art class did tree monoprints in honor of Margaret Preston. She is better known for her woodblock prints which I enjoyed seeing at the National Gallery when I was in Australia. We focused on the three specific monoprints below.
|Stephen's Creek, NSW, image source: National Gallery of Australia|
|Fern Trees, Laura, image source: National Gallery of Australia|
|Northern Territory gums, image source: National Gallery of Australia|
I provided everyone a foil wrapped piece of cardboard for their 'plate'. The masking tape border is ¼" smaller than the 5” X 7” paper I provided so that the finished prints have a border.
They also got q tips and a palette with white, black, blue, red and yellow paint. I put brayers in styrafoam veggie trays and they were inked with metallic colors. If you have plexiglass or a sheet of regular glass it works much better with the brayers. I also provided tempera paint instead of printing ink. Printers ink is much better quality but I wanted paint that would wash out of clothes. The parents really appreciate that. The downside of tempera paint is how fast it dries. I have one very deliberate student who was having trouble with her work drying before she could print it.
They had three choices for how to do their monoprints. They could use the foil as their plate and apply paint directly to it with the q tips like a real monoprint. Or they could use the brayer to ink their foil and pull paint away with the q tips. Or they could do a combination of the two. Ideally, the masking tape gets wiped with a rag before they print their plate, but as you can see from the sample plate above, that doesn't always happen.
These 5” X 7” finished pieces are great for holiday cards since it's the season or they work really nicely as a series for bookbinding. The foil on top of cardboard gives a very nice simulated woodblock texture which I emphasized since Ms. Preston did more of those. You could adapt this project to be a substitution for woodblock printing very easily as well.
To see more of Ms. Preston's her work, the National Gallery has a large collection online. National Gallery of Australia
The Australian government has a page about her and her work here.
The Australian Dictionary of Biography has more info here.
There are no kids art books available in the states about Margaret Preston.