Tried & True Tips for Art Teachers: There's More to Paper

Article excerpt

Often taken for granted, paper is an elemental part of art making. Thankfully, it's readily available in a variety of colors, textures and surfaces for whatever our needs might be. These qualities are the reason why we choose paper as a vehicle for creating art. This month's issue of Arts & Activities focuses on "Paper and Collage" and its myriad possibilities, and the results that can be achieved.

Collage, a French word meaning paste-up (or to "stick"), is such an expressive way to create art. Fabric, handwritten letters, other types of papers, drawings, magazine ads and photos all work well together in creating a collage. Look into the works of Romare Bearden, Juan Gris, Pablo Picasso (and other Cubists), Raoul Hausmann (and other Dada artists) for inspiration. Also, past October issues of Arts & Activities are loaded with successful collage assignments at all levels of art education.

tip # 1

NEW USE FOR THE WSJ Colleague Bob Fritz (a well-known glass artist) suggests, "If using newspaper in a collage, or as a cheap substitute for large figure drawings with ink, try using The Wall Street Journal." Bob says the quality of the paper is far better than any other he's found locally. Hot-glass artists soak this paper in water overnight and then use it when forming "hot" pieces: "... it simply holds up much better than other papers," says Bob. His friend who subscribes to The Wall Street Journal is happy to see it used in a creative process, saving them for Bob's use in his studio.

tip # 2

CLUES FOR COLLECTING This is from Contributing Editor, Panla Guhin: "Here are a few ideas for different papers I always tried to collect: old wallpaper books, gift-wrap leftovers, packaging discards, flexible corrugated cardboard, brown wrapping paper, foreign-language newspapers ... I've even spray painted papers for a different effect!"

These are great ideas to help in making collage work exciting and unique. I, too, loved using newspaper on brown paper, especially when drawing the human figure with my high-school students, but collage is a fabulous outlet for all age levels.

A friend saves Korean newspapers for me. I love them because of the lovely "character" shapes and the foreign flavor of the photographs, which often include American stars and entertainment celebrities.

tip # 3

WATERCOLOR-STRIP TEASE I love the various textures of watercolor papers. Whether expensive or inexpensive, pieces that might be too small for a full painting can be saved for this fun, burst-of-color assignment.

Have your students--regardless of age--create a colorful watercolor painting. You can approach this as a non-objective "painting" with middle-school or high-school students, and with younger children, having them paint shapes, lines of color, dabs or puddles of color will work beautifully, too.

Once dry, cut the "paintings" into strips or small geometric shapes for use in a collage. …