Charley and potato birds

Charley Harper was an illustrator and a graphic designer. He grew up on a farm and though he didn’t like working there, he loved walking through the woods and looking for birds and other animals he could draw. And he drew, sketched and painted a lot of them and in quite a different way than anybody before him.

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His style is called minimal realism. It is what happens when you simplify the birds (or other objects) as much as you can BUT people are still able to recognize what kind of a bird it is. Harper always said that he did not ‘count the feathers, only the wings.’ And you can clearly see it here:

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And how did Charley draw his birds? What technique did he use? A serigraph (or screen printing or silkscreen). What is it?

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The result of this technique is a print made using a stencil, woven mesh and paint. It works like this: you use a mesh and a stencil to create your print. You keep adding layers, one stencil and one color at a time until you are done.

The project inspired by Charley is simple: we are printing birds and simplifying them even more. We use potato and carrot stamps to create the birds and a toilet-paper roll to make the tree. Just cut the potatoes in halves, quarters and eighths, use a brush to apply paint to them and stamp them to create your unique birds.

Here is an example of the project. As always, you can find more details, variations and ideas in February’s issue of arTree.

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If you want to teach this lesson, you can download the power point presentation here: http://1drv.ms/1ghHGsz

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