My students began working on op-art designs this week. The designs are actually pre-printed copies. The activity is centered around applying color to the images. It’s a good opportunity to introduce a new technique or medium. This group is using watercolor pencils. As the designs are printed on regular copy paper, special considerations must be made. Students are instructed to use minimal water and to avoid “scrubbing around on the surface too much. I also advise them to paint alternating shapes while leaving dry spaces between the painted areas. This allows the paper to maintain is structure, avoid excessive wrinkling, and cut down on drying time. I have a drying rack but seldom need to use it on this project. It also prevents colors from bleeding into one another and gives the students more control. The following day, when the painted areas are thoroughly dry, the intermediate areas may be painted. I created a page with a grid of rectangles for practice with the new medium before starting their final art.
We are using Crayola watercolor pencils in sets of twelve. I place them in a zip-bag with a small sharpener. I have some spill resistant cups for the water. The brushes are Dynasty Ruby Student brushes. They were purchased in a classroom assortment from Sax (School Specialty). Students tend to choose the smaller sizes for this project. (Angle 1/4, Flat 6, Round 10)
This is a good project for allowing students to catch up on past projects. I have those students who need to finish previous work instead of moving on to the op-art designs. When they are ready, the op-art project is easy to abbreviate. I generally begin with large 11×17″ prints. Students with less time can do a 8.5×11” instead. Also, to save time, I may allow some students to black out selected portions of the design with a permanent marker before painting. Permanent marker must be used to avoid the color bleeding into the wet media. Finally, Students with very little time could be allowed to color the op-art with marker of regular colored pencil if necessary.