Saturday, August 4, 2012

Gyotaku Explorations


































I have been mildly obsessed with the Japanese art of Gyotaku lately. I have scoured the internet for different interpretations of this elegant art form. Some of my favorites came from this collection of 3rd graders on Artsonia.

I wanted my two groups of K thru 5th graders to try a couple different methods for their Gyotaku. We worked with wet on wet watercolor backgrounds as well as creating prints using ferns, plants and feathers to mimic the look of seaweed. As much as I wanted to use a real fish, I opted for a lovely rubber blue gill. I thought the smell and the "gross out factor" for some, might be an issue that would distract from the overall lesson. (Though I am bound and determined to try this with the real thing eventually.) I allowed each student to make 3 prints with rice paper as well as regular printer paper. These dried quickly enough for the children to use chalk pastel to add color and definition to their fish. Some opted for realistic hues, while others let their imaginations run wild. Some children have more tweaking to do with their pieces on day two. This lesson was all about the exploration of media, but moreover, an introduction to this mid 19th century art form of "fish rubbings" by Japanese fisherman.

15 comments:

  1. These are nice. On using real fish, the gross out factor was part of the appeal for some of my students. It was fun!

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    1. I agree Angie! I cheated some for the "real" experience, but I had to weigh a lot of unique factors for my 2 groups. I will definitely try it again with real fish at some point.

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  2. Beautiful colors and textures.
    An elegant art form Indeed.

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  3. These look great! And even with a rubber fish I'm sure the children would have thoroughly enjoyed the process : )

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  4. These are beautiful! I did some gyotaku with my PreK class a few years ago and they loved it! You might want to check out the work of some beautiful gyotaku artists on Cape Cod: http://bluewaterfishrubbings.com/ I love their work!!!!

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  5. Where did you find the rubber fish????? However, my group of 3rd to 7th grade boys (guyZart) would love the real thing.

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    1. Dickblick.com has an assortment of fish to choose from. Though, I wish they were a little larger.

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  6. Mary - These are just beautiful!! I've used real fish in the past, but with our large classes now I was reluctant to try it. Seemed like it would take too many fish to last through a two day period. I actually like the idea of using the rubber fish (with maybe one or two real fish for the kids to try -- outside on the patio:))) I noticed that Nasco has them, too, but I will check out Blick's before ordering. Thanks.

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  7. These are beautiful! I purchased some of the rubber fish for this school year from School Specialty in my classroom order. I got a little extra money to spend for supplies and decided to invest in some of the rubber forms. I got a fish collection for 5th grade and an insect and leaf collection to use with my 3d and 4th grades. I can't wait to use them! Thanks for sharing! :)

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  8. For fish printing as well as nature printing in general, you should look at www.natureprintingsociety.org.

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  9. Fantastic Mary.. ~Tina~

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  10. Que Bella, Mary! How can fish be this beautiful? I did this at an art teacher workshop with real fish and the disgusting dead eyes still haunt me! LOL

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    1. Ha, ha!!! I am still laughing -- I'd forgotten about those eyes -- you are so right!!

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  11. OK... Now I'm feeling left out of the dead fish eye experience... yet another reason to use the "real thing"! :D Thanks Pat and Christie!

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  12. My students have used the real and the rubber fish. They enjoy both. Kids work in groups helping each other so if one is grossed out the others pick up the slack. And the fish are popped in the school freezer when not in use. They lasted a few weeks for me until I could get to each class. Also, because of money constraints, I used just constuction paper. We used acrylic paint both regular and metallic. The metallic paint adds a nice shimmer that the kids love.

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