Sunday, March 4, 2012

Torn Paper Illustrations - Third Grade

One of my upcoming April workshops involves illustrating children's books. I've been playing around with the idea of using torn paper as the material to make these illustrations, but wanted to see how students would respond to the challenges this method presents. While I was subbing in an art room last week I took the opportunity to try out the idea with a third grade class.

The school's librarians were an invaluable resource in finding books to share that demonstrated this type of illustration. Two of my favorites for their clear examples were:

The Color Box Illustrated by Giles LaRoche

and Small Green Snake Illustrated by Holly Meade

I had about a dozen assorted books that all primarily used paper for illustrating. I had these spread out on the tables when the students arrived and they automatically began to look through them. On the board I had written "What is paper collage?". Instead of providing the answer or asking them to tell me the answer, I had them work in pairs to look through one of the books and find examples of paper collage to share with the rest of the class. They had five minutes to do this. Then each pair stood, held up their book open to the page of their example and explained why that image showed paper collage. They all got the idea without me having to actually tell them.

Then came the time to demonstrate how we would make our own torn paper collages that illustrated some sort of imagery. I explained how to tear paper to make shapes and reminded them that they could not use scissors to cut the paper or pencils to draw out the shapes before ripping them. This was the most challenging. I demonstrated how it was okay to layer papers and how to work the background out first. I also cautioned against gluing things down until they were sure they had what they wanted.

This was the students first time working with torn paper in this way and while some struggled to create imagery, others did really well. With another class I think they would have easily identifiable pictures to show for their efforts.

Here is what came out of just one class with about 40 minutes of actual working time:

Boats were a popular choice...

As were sun over water or land scenes...

For those who felt overwhelmed by tearing round shapes, buildings proved an easier approach...

Some students preferred illustrating nature scenes with fish, bears and snakes...

A few created interiors with interesting shapes and characters...

And among many other great images, there was this fabulous airplane!

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