Black Magic, Artist Style–just in time for Halloween!

Kindergarten is always up for alphabet inspired learning, which is why they are in charge of creating a collaborative sgraffito alphabet made up entirely of South American animals A-Z ! We have some traditional mammals and reptiles on our list, like J for Jaguar, G for Gecko, and B for Bat. Others are quite new to us, for example, N is for Nutria, O is for Okapi, Z is for Zemu. Check out our entire list of 26 exotic South American animals by watching the same video we did!

O is for Okapi

N is for Nutria

Z is for Zebu

Students began by looking at images of their assigned animal. Then they used their sketchbooks to practice drawing what made that animal unique. A nutria, for instance, would hardly be a nutria without those teeth!

The technique we are using to illustrate our animals is Sgraffito, an Italian word most often associated with ceramic or plaster work. This technique can also refer to when a top layer of color is scratched away to reveal a color beneath. The term comes from the Italian word sgraffire, which literally means “to scratch”.

Our students created their own cardboard scratch boards in preparation for their sgraffito work. This entailed covering a piece of cardboard (yay for cereal boxes!) with a thick layer of waxy crayon. The more color and variety the better. Ask your kindergarten artist why we avoided using dark colors like black on the bottom later of our scratch boards.

This artist is demonstrating the perfect amount of pressure when using crayon on cardboard. Not an easy task.

Choosing a variety of colors at this stage will lead to a more vivid work of art in the end.

Bravo boys!

Once color is heavily applied, it’s time for the Black Magic! Black Magic is an opaque variety of India Ink used to black out all existing color. We use India Ink instead of paint because of its stickiness and permanence. Six Black Magic stations were set up around the studio for students to take turns blacking out their colorful designs.

I tried to liken our use of India Ink to the days of George Washington writing letters with his feather pen and ink.

Adios for now, Color!

To the drying rack for you!

I can’t wait to see how our young artists use carving tools to scratch away using the old Italian technique of sgraffito to create colorful South American animals! Stay tuned!


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