Silver Linings: 4th Grade Scratch Art

This was a great 2-day lesson for exploring line variation and texture, while creating art on a new type of surface! We kicked off this project by using our iPads to browse through images of pen and ink landscapes. In case you hadn’t noticed, we use A LOT of color in the art room so looking at black and white images was an interesting change of pace. By stripping the images of color, we were able to take a closer look at lines and how simple mark making can create a sensation of place and texture without the use of color.

I distributed a sheet of pre-made scratch art paper and a wooden skewer to each student as 4th graders selected reference photos from the internet. The scratch paper was glossy black on the exterior, but metallic underneath. Students used the skewers to sketch (and scratch!) their landscapes onto the glossy black paper. Before students began scratching, we took some time to discuss positive and negative space and compositional balance. Students started by locating and sketching their horizon lines. Next, students identified the focal point of their landscapes and sketched this clearly. Students continued their landscapes by filling in surrounding details. Their last step was adding texture and dimension to areas within their pictures.

At the end of class, several students told me that they felt as if their pieces were missing something. So on the second day of this project, I encouraged students to experiment with adding color to their designs. Students found that oil pastels work best on top of this surface and that the silver outlines still showed through. Some students chose to add a color while others kept their landscapes black and silver. The end results were simply magical.

I loved seeing each student’s thinking evolve with each landscape. It was fascinating to see which areas of their landscapes students chose to accentuate with color and which areas students allowed the silver to shine through.

There is silver lining everywhere. And these 4th graders see it, feel it, capture it, and create it. They ARE it!

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