Mixed-Media Art and Printmaking

Beyond Drawing:

Materials and Mixed-Media Methods for Hands-on Art Making in the Classroom


Health, safety and managing materials for sustainable practices for art in our everyday lives.

Teachers are responsible for setting up opportunities for rich experiences and access to diverse art materials. We can do this while modelling ways to live in harmony with healthy bodies and a healthy environment.  Rather than limiting choices that restrict learning, we can set the scene, set positive examples, and teach children to take responsibility for choices that are creative and also safe.


Children gain confidence with experience from working with materials. The holistic learning process also involves lessons about co-operation and respectful decision-making. With safe and effective practices in place children gain freedom and independence.


In our teacher education course it  is important to gain experience and understanding of practical considerations for handling varied materials and tools. Then we will be able to effectively encourage and support mixed-media and varied hands-on approaches to creative art making.

Hands-on Materials

Let’s start with textures!


Printmaking is an extremely rewarding creative process for children. It is also an example of a traditional process that has been applied in new and creative ways by artists, with new developments for safety in materials and methods.


If it looks like it might work for a rubbing, the surface is probably rough enough to work easily for printmaking.

  • Lace, onion bags or other mesh fabrics
  • Leaves or other pressed plants, feathers and thin bark. Obvious viens and rough surface patterns help
  • Stiff string or twine
  • Corrugated cardboard or other textured card
  • Thin textured plastic, leather or even foil
  • Squished cardboard egg cartons
  • NOT hard or sharp metals and/or really thick objects that could damage our printing press.

Non-toxic pigments and water soluble inks make printmaking safe and fun, even for very young children.

Discovering texture is just the beginning. . . .

Children can learn about mixing colours, building layers, playing with positive/negative shapes and spaces, using cut-out stencils, reversals, happy accidents, and more!

Dance Round the Lighthouse

This image shows examples of prints from an artist/educator project where children created prints inspired by poetry. U.K. printmaker Ann Bridges worked with children in three Primary schools. The series above started with inspirations from Dance round the Lighthouse by Nicola Davies. 

The project was documented by Access Art in the U.K.  for sharing with it’s members. LINK TO ACCESS ART HERE to learn a little more about this Artist Educator resource example.

For more information about the artist, her own work and a few more examples of work with students, LINK TO WORK BY ANN BRIDGES

ETEP II Students – Art Course Homework for November 1st and November 8th

1. Lesson Plans

This is not new homework, but if you have not yet had the opportunity to share a summary of your lesson plan in class, you will be able to do this November 1st. Plans should already be handed in. Make sure you have project examples with you.

2. Reading and Sketch Notes

Chapter 9 for November 1st

Sinner, A. (2011). Greening Our Art Classrooms: Ecologically-aware Health and Safety. In K. Grauer, Starting With . . ., (pp.126-133). Victoria, B.C.: Canadian Society for Education through Art.

Chapter 12 for November 8th

Elliot, S. (2011). Art is like a Bowl of Fruit: Aesthetics and Art Criticism in the Elementary School. In K. Grauer, Starting With . . ., (pp.126-133). Victoria, B.C.: Canadian Society for Education through Art.

3. Texture Collection – Natural and Man-Made Materials for Printing

See the list of examples above for ideas of materials that can go through our printing press. You will need these materials for two classes, November 1st and also November 8th. We will make some space on shelves, so bring your items in a bag with your name on it. We will show our items and test a few on the first day (as time permits), then decide if we need more for the next week.

4. Sketch Journal and Collage/Resource Collection Envelope

Sketch ideas and collect resources for our mixed-media greeting card project. You will need sketch ideas for November 1st and collage materials for November 8th.

Consider possibilities for messages, lettering, collage materials that can be glued directly to paper (these ones will not go through the printing press), meaningful imagery, decorative border design ideas, etc.

5. Bring your drawing pens and sketching supplies.

Especially black permanent ink pens, but on November 8th you will also need more variety.


Canadian oil painter and mixed-media artist, Susan Neilson is fascinated by natural geometry in micro and macro worlds. Precise realism, calm energy and intuitive abstraction combine in her art. The Pacific Northwest and parks of the British Columbia Interior inspire her current work. She is interested in biomorphic forms and patterns connecting all living systems, as well as the interface between wild and cultivated environments.

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