Create a Print-Style Mixed Media Painting for the Winter Season: A Middle School Art Lesson

Create a Print-Style Mixed Media Painting for the Winter Season: A Middle School Art Lesson
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Objective: Students will use a pressed paint-coated collage to create a seasonal piece of art.

Materials: Choice of water-based paint, chalk or oil pastels, paintbrushes and water, watercolor or mixed media paper, art board, tape, thick paper or cardstock for collage cutouts, glue, scissors

Preparation Tip: You may want to try the process for this lesson first, and make several samples before teaching to your class.

Lesson Procedure:

Step One (Introduction): Post several samples of project for students to observe, along with any mixed media collage or print pieces that would be inspiring to students for this activity. Encourage students to visualize scenes that fit the holiday or winter season, and identify large objects that can be the focus of such scenes.

Explain to students that they will be making cutouts to coat and press into their own winter or seasonal works of art.

Step Two (Prepare Surface and Plate): Have your students first tape down their papers and tone them with water-soluble paint. Fun tip: to create a more textured feel to the background, crumple plain tissue paper and spread it over the wet paint, smoothing it out and lifting it off the surface to create patterns on the toned background. Set toned paper aside to dry.

Using thick paper or cardstock, students will begin cutting out large shapes for their artwork.  Arrange shapes into a desired composition and use glue to stick shapes to a thick piece of paper to use as “printing plates.”  It is important that students allow “plates” to dry completely before beginning the next stage.  Remind students as they create their compositions that because they are making a “printing plate,” the composition will be a mirror image when pressed onto the toned surface (any numbers, letters, or words glued down will need to be created backward so they come out correctly when pressed).

Step Three (Coat and Press Plates): Once both the toned surface and the printing plates have dried completely, students will need to coat their plates with a thick layer of paint.  If desired, they may use oil pastels to create a resist and add designs or texture to their printing plates before coating with paint.  Students may also choose to add paint only to the cutout shapes or to cover the printing plates completely, depending on the desired effects.

Once plates are coated, act quickly and carefully to lay the printing plate flat onto the toned surface, pressing and smoothing briefly and firmly with a large book to create an even distribution of paint.  Students will need to carefully peel the plates off of the surfaces without moving the plates around.  Once plates are removed, students can set their pieces aside again to dry.

**Step Four (Finish with Dry Pastel Details): ** Once pieces have again completely dried, students are free to take the chalk pastels and detail their pictures with bright colors, bringing their shapes to life by adding value and lines to achieve the desired results.  Discourage students from layering pastel over itself for this project, as it is likely to be dulled by the colors underneath it if there are too many layers of chalk.

Assessment:  Ask students to display their works and lead the class in a brief discussion of their thoughts on the process they used to create their pieces.  Students should be graded according to how well they followed teacher’s directions for this activity.

Extension: You may want to give students the opportunity to make additional printing plates to create handmade cards to donate locally to seniors, hospitals, or veterans.


  • All artwork courtesy of Nicole Hilsabeck