"A Faithful Attempt" is designed to showcase a variety of K-12 art lessons, the work of my art students, as well as other art-related topics. Projects shown are my take on other art teacher's lessons, lessons found in books or else designed by myself.
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Sunday, May 6, 2012

Rouault Clowns Tempera Batik

This is a tempera batik project I did with a Grade 6 class. There are many variations of how to do this process floating around the internet. I essentially followed this one. The idea is to create a batik-type effect using tempera paint and black ink. I don't find it's so much like batik; more of a haunting textural effect.

 With tempera batik I have found that you need to experiment ahead of time and test it out with your equipment (different brands seem to have different effects). Most importantly, use nice thick paper as it needs to be soaked in water later.

I used the French Expressionist artist George Rouault and his clown series for the inspiration for this project. I think his clowns look so dark and emotive and work well with this technique.

I took the photo below when I visited the Pompidou Center in Paris. There was a whole wall devoted to Rouault's portraits, including the clowns.

Clown by Georges Rouault
I started off by showing a slide show of his works. Have students discuss the characteristics of his work and the emotions the paintings evoke. Then students did practice sketches of clown faces in their sketchbooks.

Draw the good copy in pencil on heavy white paper. Then pass over all the pencil lines with a thick line of chalk. Above you can see the clown has been drawn in yellow chalk. Now paint everything with tempera paint, but not the thick chalk lines. Students need to let each layer dry and paint at least two thick layers.  It's best to use lighter and brighter colours as the overall picture will get dulled down by the India ink in the later steps.

Then, using a wide foam brush, lay on an even layer of India ink.
I think I only let it dry about 5 minutes or less, then students washed them off in the sink. They wet the whole paper, then use their fingers to gently 'scrub' away the ink, revealing the paint below. If you scrub it too hard, or let it soak too long, the tempera paint will start to dissolve and the paper could tear, so be careful wih this step. 
Some of the ink stays, hence the textural effect.

Ta da!

This display really creeped me out, I have to say...


sallgood said...

These are great! Thanks for sharing.

Chesterbrook Academy Elementary said...

I love the process of this project.
Your students did an amazing job interpreting the work of the artist.

Rina k6art.com said...

Hi Miss-

Very nice. If I just looked at the photos I would have guessed some sort of printing process. Thanks for explaining the tempera batik technique.

Rina at www.k6art.com

J.ham said...

First, I love Rouault project. This one is especially great. Loved all the techniques and I also loved your comment about the display creeping you out.

Phyl said...

Really nice. I LOVE Roualt portraits, but I don't have a single art print to hang on my wall for Roualt lessons - they simply are impossible to find! I haven't done this process for years because I get frustrated when paper tears. What kind of paper are you using that holds up to the process?

Miss said...

Thanks everyone.

Jen: Yes, clowns really creep me out! They always have! But I don't so much mind Rouault's clowns as they don't have that fake scary smile- they are more 'human' and simply melancholy...

Phyl- I've also had papers tear so since then have experimented with alot of different papers and have found that heavy, smooth papers, like cardstock or posterboard work well.

Also, I find it's important to rinse off the ink pretty quickly after applying it, that way you don't have to wet the paper for too long.

Mary said...

Each one of these is wonderful! They do have a "haunting" look to them. I will have to try this sometime. Great post!

Jill G. said...

I love this idea! I am going to try it out for my last project of the year. I did a few experiments and my india ink tended to rub off too much if I only let it sit five minutes. I am going to try to give it a few more minutes before rinsiing. Thanks for the inspiration.

Miss said...

Mary: Thank you!

Jill G.- yes, it's good you tested it out first- different brands of ink, tempera and paper all seem to work differently. Doing a test run is imperative imo and it also helps you teach it better to the kids as you can tell them tips of what works best, etc.

Tempera batik can be a tricky process for sure but the unusual results achieved can be worth it!

Chesterbrook Academy Elementary said...

Please visit my blog to receive your Original Blog award.


PLASTIQUEM - Espe said...

Hello Miss! Thanks to your comment, I found your blog. Congratulations for your work and you can have one more follower.
The technique of batik has been spectacularly wrong and very suitable for the works of Rouault. A hug and see you soon.

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