Playing Around with Paper

posted on May 7, 2019

Common ideas with a fresh twist are always fun for students and teachers alike. One of our curriculum points is to create an artwork using wet-onwet painting. While this is fun and interesting to do, I wanted to make it even more so. We began this lesson by learning about creating resist paintings.

Playing Around with PaperAshlyn, grade three.

Drawing with Oil Pastels
Using oil pastels, students created a living creature, either real or imagined, on their papers. I encouraged them to use inventive textures to create interest in these beings and to manipulate the oil pastels in a variety of ways. Few of my third-graders were experienced with using this medium, although they had previously been introduced to it. Students were excited to have the opportunity to play and explore the different things oil pastels can do. As students completed this exercise, I handed out white tissue paper. I asked them to crumple it up and to open it back up and smooth it out. This was perplexing to them. Finally, it was time to paint using the wet-onwet technique.

Playing Around with PaperAdalynn, grade three.


Working with Wet Paper
I instructed students to head over to the sink and to get their papers (with the oil pastel drawings) wet. To reassure students that getting the paper wet would not ruin their drawings, I demonstrated with one of my own. Once students' papers were wet, they placed their now wrinkled but unfolded tissue paper over their drawings and pressed it onto the wet paper. It was time for the real fun to begin. After a discussion of painting with watercolors, students began painting on top of their tissue paper. They were enthralled with the way the wrinkles in the tissue paper made the paint seep across their papers in unique patterns. I encouraged them to vary their colors to suit their drawings. For example, if a student created a fish drawing, they could use cool colors for their background paintings. Having said this, I also told them they could use any colors and they wanted to create an interesting background.

The Crackle Effect
Students really enjoyed doing the wet-on-wet painting through the tissue paper but wanted to peek under the paper to see how it was going. They quickly discovered that peeking caused the interesting lines to dissipate, so that discouraged that practice. The papers were left to dry with the tissue paper still attached. The following class session began with the great unveiling of the paintings. When students peeled back the tissue paper, they were amazed and delighted with the crackled results. Final Thoughts Everyone felt successful in this lesson but the real success was how wonderful and vibrant the backgrounds looked. I would recommend making sure that students use a greater amount of water than paint. Students who didn't follow this and utilized a great deal of paint spent quite a bit of time plucking the stuck tissue paper off their papers, while those who used the watercolors correctly were able to move on to other projects.

Melanie Robinson is an art teacher at Cedar Springs Elementary School in House Springs, Missouri. mrobinson@northwestschools.org

Creating: Generate and conceptualize artistic ideas and work.

Tutorial: www.fantasticfunandlearning.com/tissue-paper-art.html

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