Sunday, February 8, 2015

Fingerprint Skyline - a school class art project!

The clever girl's school has a pancake breakfast each spring, which is the big fundraiser for the school.  Each classroom is responsible for making an art project to be part of a silent auction.  Somehow, the powers that be figured out that I am sort-of crafty, so I was asked to spearhead the art project for the clever girl's class.  I found an example of a fingerprint skyline on Pinterest and a video tutorial on Youtube, so I  thought I would try it out.

It takes a bit of prep work on the front end, but the kids had a blast doing their part.  I was in the classroom for maybe an hour and they were done.  It didn't interrupt their lessons very much and they really enjoyed creating art together.  In a time where so many schools cut art classes out of their curriculum because of crappy standardized testing (ooops, am I letting my true feelings show here?) and poor funding, I think it is important to introduce art whenever you can! 

If you want to make such a project with your child's class, here is what you will need:

  • A gallery wrapped canvas, 8x24-inches
  • fairly good sized jar of black acrylic paint 
  • small bottles of other random colors of acrylic paint for the dots
  • fine-point white paint pen
  • high gloss varnish (could also use a matte varnish if you like) 
  • paintbrush
  • masking tape
  • exacto knife or fine blade
  • sharp scissors
  • computer
I purchased the canvas, black acrylic paint (I used Liquitex brand), fine-point white paint pen, and the high-gloss varnish (also Liquitex brand) at Dick Blick online.  I already had many (many) bottles of colored acrylic paint but did purchase a few other colors and the paintbrush at Michael's craft store.   I already had the rest.

First, you need to paint your canvas black.  Use the paint sparingly, as you don't want to get the canvas too wet or it might warp a bit.  I did 2 coats of black paint.  Paint all the way around the back and over where the canvas is stapled on the back.  That way you don't have to worry about lines/edges from where the paint stops and the blank canvas starts.  Let this dry.

While it is drying, go to your computer, pull up Google and click on "images".  Type in your city and the word "skyline", i.e. "Houston skyline".  You will get several skylines to choose from, and you can narrow your selection by clicking on "drawing" so you get more of the skyline black and white drawings instead of photographs.  Find one that you like and then use some sort of software to expand it to approximately 6 1/2x24-inches.  Whatever dimension the height is when you get to 24 inches in length should work, as long as it isn't over 8 inches!  I used Microsoft Publisher but there are probably many things that would work.  Print out your skyline that is now the right size and cut it out. If your cutting lines are thick, cut on the inside part, closer to the building.  This will help give you more space for when you are doing the masking tape part.

Gently tape the paper skyline to your black canvas.  I used rolled up scotch tape in random places, not too many but enough to stay down.  Trace around your paper skyline with the white paint marker.

Ta-da!  I added the word "Houston" on top, to clarify what the heck this was, in case it wasn't obvious from looking at the skyline.  If your city has a more well known skyline, you probably don't need to add the city name.  However, if you want to add a name, here is what to do:
  • Use Microsoft Publisher (you could use whatever) to write the city name in a font you like.  I used Gill Sans Ultra Bold.  
  • Print it out in the size you want on a piece of paper.  
  • Now cut off a piece of masking tape that is longer than your word, and stick it onto a piece of waxed paper.  Put the waxed paper/masking tape over the top of your city word.  You should be able to see through the masking tape.  
  • Trace the word onto the  masking tape.  
  • Place the waxed paper on a piece of cardboard and carefully cut it out with your blade.  I did keep the dots in the center of the "o's", but for some reason did not place them on the canvas for the photo.  
  • Very carefully remove the masking tape from the waxed paper and place it on the canvas where you like. Use your fingernail to really stick down the tape around the letters.  
 Now you are ready to tape up your canvas.  You want to put tape right up to the the edges of the white paint, covering the entire sky with tape.  Make sure the white lines are in the building areas that will be finger-painted, so that the lines will be covered up. 

I somehow forgot to take a photo of the buildings before we finger-painted it, sorry.  But you get the idea - the tape goes in the sky so the buildings are painted.  This taping part takes a bit of patience, especially if you have tiny slivers of gaps between buildings.  Just do your best.

Now bring the project up to school.  Here is what I brought with me:
  • paper towels (mess!)
  • small paper plates
  • paintbrush 
  • cup for water
Squirt a medium sized blob of paint on a paper plate, one plate for each color.  I used the paintbrush only when I had to mix up a color, which happened with my blue.  My blue color was too dark and wasn't so visible, so I mixed in some white to make it brighter.  I had 3-4 kids come paint at a time, each using a different color.  Ask them to just use the tip of their finger, not the entire finger pad.  And then we just kept going until it got pretty full.  At first I told them each to do 20 dots, then they came again and did 10 or so more, and then the kids that really were getting a kick out of painting continued with different colors until it was more full.  I touched it up a little when I got home, filling in a few areas that I found where the black showed through in the buildings.

When you are sure it is totally dry, gently pull off all of the tape.  If there are building lines that look a little shaggy, carefully paint that area with black paint and a tiny paintbrush to smooth things out.  Don't do too much, as you don't want it to show.  Plus this was made by kids and it does not have to be PERFECT.  It will be awesome regardless.  Last, use your white paint pen to draw in any significant antenna or random things that are on the tops of the buildings.  If you scroll back up to the top, you'll see that one of my buildings had a big cross-type antenna on the top, which I drew with the paint pen.  The pointy building to the left of the cross had some small antenna that I added as well. 

Make sure to write the year and the teacher's name on the bottom edge of the painting.   I did it on the side that faces the floor, but you can do it anywhere.

When it is completed, bring it by your child's classroom so they can all see the end result.  The clever girl and her classmates were astounded by their creation and were super excited.  It was great fun!

Our silent auction was yesterday and there were lots of bids on this beautiful masterpiece!  It was a hit and brought in a great price for the school.  Yeah!

Now I just have to start brainstorming for next year....  The clever girl goes to a public Montessori school so she will be in this class for 3 years.  I'm now the room parent for this class so I'll be spearheading art projects for the next 2 years!  If you have any ideas, please share!

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