Friday, March 16, 2012

Leaf Relief

A lovely leaf relief with a dotted background by one of my former students.

Hey guys! This post has been very popular...if you are interested in other leaf related projects, be sure to look at this Leaf Printing post and my Leaf Press Project. Thanks!

While second grade was completing that project, I was working with my third graders on these Leaf Reliefs. It's a very spring/summer kind of project, so I thought I'd share it with you.
A close up of one of the 3" X 4" reliefs. I love that this artist chose a less than perfect leaf.
I like that I can talk about all of the elements of art when looking at something as simple as a leaf: the shape of the leaf; the lines and texture of the veins; the varying colors of each leaf; the cylinder form of the tree that the leaf came from. And when we complete this project, we chat about the values we created and the positive and negative space of the leaf. I do a lot of what's called "call and response" in my classroom which is where I say something and the kids finish my phrase. For example, when I point out an "element of..." they all respond "aaahhrt". Because we are fancy artists that speak with funny accents. Whatever helps them to remember, right?
Completed by an adult during an art afternoon I hosted a while back. I love that she chose to use a dandelion.
For this project, you'll need to gather the following:
  • matte board ... I used 3" X 4"
  • leaves, delicate flowers, lace ... really anything flat with some sort of texture
  • 3M Spray Glue 
  • inexpensive aluminum foil
  • the $1 a can matte black spray paint found at Home Depot ... seriously, you want the cheap stuff
  • 0000 steel wool 
  • canvas, matte board or even cardboard for the background
One adult used impatiens and they turned out beautifully. I like that she even added some color to the foil with watered down acrylic paint.
In the art room, I had the kids gather around a table, pick a piece of matte board and lay it in front of them. Then I would lightly spray the glue on the board. The kids then chose from a pile of leaves laying their leaves on the sticky board veiny side up. I then sprayed the board again, laid a piece of tin foil over the board shiny side up and sent the kids back to their seats. At their seat, they used their finger to rub the surface of the board and reveal the texture underneath.

Once that was complete, we took our boards, a large drop cloth and some cheapo spray paint outside. I attempted to let the kids spray paint but I ended up giving the boards a final coat to insure complete coverage. We let their boards dry until the following art class.
Rubbing the spray paint off of the matte board to reveal the textured leaf underneath.
Using the softest of steel wool, the kids burnished their leaf reliefs. Some kids chose to burnish the boards completely while others liked the variety of values. And even though I emphasized not to rub too hard, we still had several incidences where the kids tore their foil. Usually they noticed right away and the foil could be gently glued back into place. In other cases, we repaired by using a black or silver sharpie to camouflage the tear.
For the background, I have tried a variety of things. In the classroom, we have used canvas boards that we've painted (after a long chat about color theory and mixing, of course) and applied a texture with our texture combs. Not familiar with texture combs? I picked mine up from an art supply catalog however they can easily be made by using either a plastic comb or cutting notches into cardboard.
I picked up a ton of matte board at a local framing shop when it was going out of business. I'm sure any such shop would make a donation. I love the burlap texture on this matte board.
This background here was created by an adult using a leaf stencil. I love the combination of two reliefs.
Once paintings and reliefs were complete, I hot glued the metal work onto the canvas. I gave the kids the opportunity to either have their reliefs flat or popping up by adding a bit of stryofoam to the back of the relief.
Another adult example. I love her use of type and found objects. So many possibilities!
The works of art were a real show stopper once hung in the hall as a group. What I loved so much about this project was that I was able to start the year with a solid introduction to the elements of art. Not only that but all children were successful which is a huge ego bust. In fact, my principal-at-the-time loved them so much, she stayed after school with me for a couple of days so I could teach the lesson to her! Her leaf reliefs are now proudly displayed in her home. Gotta love a project that inspires everyone!
Hopefully this will inspire you as well. Enjoy your weekend!




31 comments:

  1. So you're just the coolest art teacher in town, aren't you? I'm 27 now, but I remember that in elementary school I absolutely treasured art class. I have never been naturally good at math and in second grade I had a teacher who would literally ridicule me in front of her entire class after math tests if I did poorly or for asking too many questions. Math was a tense hour for me, and it made me hate school. Luckily for me, immediately after math I had ART and a wonderful ART TEACHER named Mr. Turner. Oh how I LOVED his class!!! And I was GOOD at art! There were no wrong answers in Mr Turner's class and there were no wrong ways to draw or paint. Just different ways to express yourself. He was wonderful and he made making it through math class worth it. Art teachers are angels, honestly. They provide much-needed relief in school, a way to creatively express and decompress. Not to mention, art teachers usually end up, just by dint of personality, being the coolest people in school. :o) You seem like a wonderful teacher and I hope that you know that what you really does matter SO very much.

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  2. These are beautiful!! Thanks for sharing!

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    1. And so super easy, hope you'll give it a go. Thanks for visiting! ...Cassie

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    2. Is there a particular famous artist that I can reference that uses this type of art?

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    3. I would talk about what relief sculpture is and examine some examples with your students. They could look at the relief sculptures on monuments, perhaps.

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  3. Absolutely wonderful! Love these!

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  4. Really lovely - I must try this! thank you for sharing :)

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  5. I love the texture on these leaf prints! Stunning! Thanks for sharing them!

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  6. Nfl shop:-Your Shoping Blog is very cool and nice . Thanx for my sumit my link.

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  7. Let me say, I love art teachers! I had to try this because they are so lovely.

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  8. Anonymous10/29/2012

    I love these! I plan to use this technique in some collages of my own.
    Thank you so much for sharing!

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  9. hi Cassie, love the art projects on your site, so creative and the results are inspiring for all ages.

    Note: I assume you meant to say a "huge ego boost" and not "a huge ego bust" :-)

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  10. WOW I LOVE THEM all ,, I wished i knew how you made them ... help .
    MaryR

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  11. Anonymous4/09/2013

    Can you tell me in what order the process was done for the Impatiens piece? It's sooo lovely!

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  12. These came out beautiful and are so delicate looking! I have had classes make collagraphs with cardboard shapes or string on a background, print them and then cover them with foil which they colored with permanent colored markers.
    http://floridacreate.blogspot.com/2009/10/collagraphs.html

    I like the idea of the spray glue for the leaves and spray paint for the foil-
    Thanks for sharing-you seem like a FUN art teacher!

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  13. This looks like a fun project! Thank you for sharing the instructions. Do the leaves that are sandwiched between the matt board and the foil ever mildew or cause a problem when they dry up?

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  14. Anonymous9/22/2013

    I assume the leaves and flowers were press dried prior to glueing?

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    1. Not really. I mean, I picked them that morning, squished 'em between some books and used them in class that day.

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  15. Anonymous10/12/2013

    I only have my art class once a month at the library for 45 minutes, which wouldn't allow time for the spray painti to dry.
    Do you think the kids could color the foil with a black sharpie instead (which would dry faster than paint) and then burnish them?
    Thanks--lovey project!

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    1. Maybe...? Not sure, perhaps you outta test that one out before hand. Another idea would be india ink...but that would also take time to dry. The spray paint only needs about 7 minutes max on a dry day. You could demo the burnishing step to the kids while their paint dries? Just a thought :)

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    2. The leaf reliefs turned out beautifully, and the kids were so proud of their project. I did end up using the spray paint, and as you said it dried very quickly. We were able to complete the project within the 45 minutes, and clean up was easy.
      Thanks so much!

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  16. Is the matte board necessary of would some thicker construction paper or something similar work? Trying to keep it at minimal cost. LOVE the idea though!

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    1. What about cardboard cut from cardboard boxes? My school recycles tons daily as do the local grocery stores, you could look there. Tag board is pretty heavy so that might also work. Just to be safe, maybe try it on your own first? Let me know how it goes and have fun!

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  17. Anonymous10/24/2013

    how about show polish (covering it with black shoe polish, let it set for a few minutes them wiping off the excess)? Would that give the same effect? We meet just 2 times per month...........

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  18. gracias, fantástica idea relacionada además con el mundo natural!!

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  19. This is incredible. Must try it before the snowfall, thank you so much!

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  20. I just love this project, all of them turned out beautiful! Thanks for sharing!

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  21. Anonymous7/08/2014

    I love this art! It looks amazing!! :)

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  22. Techniques to create beautiful art
    impressive result, fell in love with this work
    I have a question What is the foil or paper towels in?

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  23. I make art with plastic pet I invite you to my blog http://yadidborjasarteconbotellaspet.blogspot.mx/
    yadidborjas@gmail.com

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Thank you so much for your comments. I appreciate each and every one :)