Ever wonder how Eric Carle creates such vibrant and crisp, delicious illustrations? His secret is painting on archival tissue paper. The papers above were made with tempera on tissue paper. If this photo excites you, read on.
Construction paper collage can be a become redundant when you work with the same colors and textures. I like to jazz up paper collage with newspaper text clippings and other found papers. However, with hand painted papers the possibilities soar. You have the choice of creating any color, any texture and any printed patterns to overlap with. I have used hand-painted papers for intricate sculptural works of art that you can view right here: Wrist Candy.
Motivation: pass out color swatches to students upon entering the art studio. Ask them to organize them in a meaningful way during your circle intro. 99% of the time, students will create a color wheel or spectrum. Invited students to share what they know about the color wheel and why colors are organized in a circular pattern. Students will have a goal of mixing as many different shades of the color they were assigned. These colors will be painted onto small rectangles of tissue. Talk about adding white to a color mixture. How does white change a color? As discussed in my post, “Painting with Children“, I offer only the primary colors, magenta, turquoise and white to students during color mixing activities. For this activity it is helpful if a majority of the colors have a bit of white in the mixture to create an opaque color. If the paint colors are translucent, they do not show up as vibrant on the tissue as a color that is opaque. This does not mean that all the colors will be pastels. You can add just a dabble of white to achieve a less translucent color.
Lesson Development: Remind students to be generous with their paint mixtures. A large amount is needed for painting a full sheet of tissue and you don’t want to run short on a color before completing a sheet. Be sure to have small sponges for removing water from the brushes as a watery mixture will not create an opaque color. Painting Tissue: For the first class period, have students focus on painting solid sheets of 8×10 inch white tissue paper. For the second class period, students can re-mix colors that are not well represented as well as add textures with printing tools to the dry solid sheets. Corks, bottle caps, and pencil top erasers make great dots. Thin brushes can create lines or a grid design. Cut sponges into geometric shapes for stamping fun as well. Collage: Cut paper into four or two smaller sheets for children to share. Modge Podge or any adhesive and gloss/matte medium product works best for collaging hand painted tissue because the paper is so thin. Have students coat the area where they want to glue first then place the tissue over it and paint on top as well. In the past I have had students collage over foamcore stars as well as on paper.
Materials: White tissue cut into 8×10 inch rectangular sheets; Tempera paint; Modge Podge; brushes; stamping tools, mixing trays or small plastic cups for mixing.
Skill Level: Second Grade and above.
For insight into paint set up and lesson execution, view my post “Materials Workshop: Painting with Children”.