Tag Archives: tracing.

Tracing Art: It’s okay. Really.

 

IMG_3368

My children have taught me that tracing isn’t an art evil. As a kid, I thought tracing another artist’s work was cheating and meant you weren’t a real artist. Even copying a painting or drawing by sight felt very, very wrong.  As a teenager, I had a friend who happily copied beautiful famous paintings and book illustrations, and I admired that, as well as her relaxed approach to imitation,  but couldn’t make myself do it. I was a little tense, I think… Ha.

Even so, I’ve supplied my kids with tracing paper from the beginning, like any good art parent would despite her oddly placed principles (which I kept to myself). So, I expected them to trace their own drawings, for some legit purpose like slight alterations or recreating characters. No. Four years ago, my daughter took that tracing paper and got out my childhood copy of Lee J. Ames’ Draw 50 Animals—and then she went directly to the final, finished drawing, and traced it.

Wait. Is that allowed?!

Apparently, yes. She turned it into her own personal art form for months. Tracing animals, coloring them with markers in exotic ways, attaching yarn and hanging them from the ceiling to spin in the fan-breeze. It was beautiful. And I was humbled. Tracing isn’t so bad.

IMG_3367

So a few months ago, when my 8-year-old son was struggling, near tears, over trying to draw Zita the Spacegirl just right, I suggested he trace Ben Hatke’s cover, to get a feel for the lines and angles. He was game and cheered right up. I’m glad to see I did not pass on my tracing-shame to them. Tracing doesn’t end original drawing, and it doesn’t kill creativity. If anything, the satisfaction from tracing can urge young artists forward, and even train their hand to make the shapes their minds are intending.

So he traced, and the sky didn’t fall. He also drew Zita on his own, and I joined him (sans tracing paper…). These are our sketches of Zita, his first and mine in progress:

IMG_3363

IMG_3364

This one he did freehand from Hatke’s back-o’-the-book sketches. The kid hated his version until about six hours later when the heat died down and he was able to see how great a job he did. Sometimes we all need a little time to cool off.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Artist/Author, Drawing

Carving Eraser Stamps: Small but Mighty

IMG_3201

It’s dangerous, fun, challenging, and makes a bit of a mess. Perfect.

Stamp carving wisdom: Always carve away from your fingers, and have extra rubber ready to soothe the frustrated artists.

This is not one of the easier projects, and when my kids were little they basically gouged out marks, trying for a straight line, and that was that. They were proud then, and that was enough. Now, they have higher aspirations, and carving rubber is pretty unforgiving.

But some kids forgive the rubber, and use every last scrap for a doodle and design:

IMG_3191

The great thing about eraser stamps is that you can buy a bunch for cheap, especially during back-to-school sales. The difficult thing is that they are so small it’s hard to hold and you run out of edge pretty quickly. We use Speedball Linoleum Cutters, changing the carving attachments as needed for varying thicknesses.

When it works out, it’s incredibly satisfying…

IMG_3186

This artist used Strathmore 300 Tracing Pad paper to capture characters from Star Wars: Jedi Academy, then transferred them to the rubber. This also works for your own design if you don’t want to draw directly on the rubber, because it’s hard (impossible?) to erase graphite off a rubber eraser. It doesn’t make sense, but it’s true.

We consulted the inspiring book Making an Impression: Designing & Creating Artful Stamps by the talented Gennine Zlatkis. The best thing is that once you have a stamp, you can use it again and again! I made a hollow heart so I could watercolor, colored pencil, or pastel the inside for some Mail Art love.

Check out Carving Rubber Stamps: The Kids Mean Business next!

3 Comments

Filed under Crafting, Mail Art, Lettering & Writing, Stamp Carving