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.