Monday, 9 March 2015

Bioluminescent Fish

As I said before half-term, we have now begun our new topic, "Blue Abyss." I was racking my brain for art project ideas to do with fish and browsed Pinterest but just couldn't decide what to do. I then came across my Klimt 'Tree of Life' scratch art project that I did with Art Club and felt that this was perfect! I thought that the same method could be used to create our very own bioluminescent fish (fish that emit their own light.) We learnt about bioluminescence and also watched some amazing clips of these fish and creatures in action.

Black paint
Washing up liquid

1. You need to cover your piece of paper completely with wax crayon. This can be a laborious task but to give it a bit more structure I showed my children the following pictures. I explained that they should start with one colour and draw random regular and irregular shapes across their page. They then take another colour and add a shape to each of the shapes already drawn. This process is repeated until the page is completely covered with colour. The final product looks much better with a range of colours and quite small shapes so that when you scratch, the colour changes a lot.

2. The next stage is to paint over the crayon page with black paint. The look of horror on the children's faces is always hilarious! It is important to mix washing-up liquid with the black paint for it to work. I don't know the exact reason or how it works but I'm guessing that it helps make the paint easier to scratch off and make it less flaky. I used probably about 2/3 paint and 1/3 washing-up liquid. To get a good covering, use short paint strokes, almost like dabbing the paint on. This will let less colour through. Make sure you can an even covering.

3. When it is completely dry, it's time to start scratching! I gave my students about half a lesson to do a detailed plan of their fish on plain paper and gave them a sheet of different shapes and sizes they could use for inspiration. It's important to stress that errors in scratch art can't be erased so they need to be careful and take their time! These are the stages that I recommended when scratching in their fish:

- Draw your outline carefully and go over it a couple of times for it to really stand out

- Add scales to the main art of your fish's body. I modelled how these can be drawn by first making rainbow shapes and then on the next row, doing the same shape but from the middle of one rainbow to the middle of the next. Hard to explain but I'm sure you know what I mean!

- Add patterns to the scales. I recommended using patterns on every other row of scales but let children do this how they wanted to. I left a lot of different patterns on the board so that everyone would have ideas. If I had more time, it would've been nice to give everyone a post-it note which they could draw a pattern on. You could then stick these all up in the classroom and have a big ideas wall!

- Finally, you can add any extra details that you'd like such as sea-weed or other small fish.

That completes the bioluminescent fish walk-through! The children had lots of fun using a technique a bit out of the ordinary and they're proud of their fish. They really come to life when stuck up on a window with the light shining through. They really look like they're giving off their own light!

Please let me know if you attempt this in your own school/class, I'd love to see results!

Here are ours:

They certainly catch the eye. They're ofFISHally fintastic.


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