Friday, June 6, 2014

Projects for Pacon!

completed project idea ~ 'Designing Negative Space'
When I was at the NAEA convention in San Diego, in the vendor area, a gal from Pacon was looking for art bloggers willing to write up lessons incorporating a new material that they would send for you to sample.  I thought this sounded like a fun challenge, so I accepted the offer.  In return, I received their new Pacon Basic Black Drawing Paper in three forms: a package of 9"x12" sheets, a spiral sketchbook of the same size, and a large project roll.  The paper is especially designed for use with gel pens and metallic markers.
completed project idea ~  'Getting Buggy: Still Life Collage'
I used the spiral pad as a place to experiment, and I discovered that the gel pens I was using did not show up well.  Since the paper is intended for use with gel pens, I contacted the rep and she immediately popped a set of Sakura GellyRoll Moonlight Gel Pens in the mail to me, and yay, they worked fabulously on the black paper!  I definitely recommend them.  I also had success with a variety of metallic markers (also recommended for use with this paper), with Faber Castell Metallic Gel Sticks, and white acrylic ink (using a bamboo pen).  I'm not going to show you all my fun doodles, but I must say, I do love the idea of a black sketchpad!  Next I'm going to be using the sketchpad to test white charcoal pencil and some white and sepia-tone conte, and I expect they might both work well. 
completed project idea ~ 'Wacky Woven Flying Carpet'
About the black paper - it is lighter weight than construction paper, with a very smooth surface on one side and a slight tooth on the other.  Due to its light weight, I don't think I'd recommend it for wet media.  While I haven't yet tried it (but I will), I think the paper would suit well for some folding and curling techniques.  The only criticism I have of the paper is that the black is not a deep rich black, but actually more on the gray side of black.  But of course, that means that a black Sharpie shows up on it for adding subtle detail, so that's kind of cool, isn't it?

Anyhow, in typical fashion, I went overboard and I developed three lesson ideas, all using the 9"x12" paper, and I'd like to share them with you.  I haven't come up with any fabulous ideas for the larger size paper yet, since the fine points of gel pens and metallic markers lend themselves more to small sizes.  But like I said, maybe a folding/rolling/curling type of project?
My first lesson idea (pictured above, below, and at the top of the post) is the simplest: an easy project I called 'Designing Negative Space'.  With a white gel pen, I traced an ordinary object (I used a scissors) many times on a sheet of the Pacon black paper, turning it in various directions, overlapping, and even going right over the edge of the paper.  The idea would be to talk with students about balance, repetition, and movement to create good a composition.  Then I filled in all the sections of negative space, using repeating patterns and designs.  Again, I used the GellyRoll  pens for this.

The second project 'Getting Buggy: Still Life Collage' is my favorite, but has more steps.  I referred to the artwork of Dutch artist Rachel Ruysch (1664-1750), whose lush still life paintings always include 'creepy-crawlies' (insects, spiders, small lizards, butterflies, snails, inchworms, etc) tucked in among the flowers and on the tables. Here are a few images of her paintings:
I decided to make a colorful flower still life collage with bugs in it, to bring this to an elementary level.  The backgrounds of her paintings are usually dark, so I selected a deep blue Tru-Ray construction paper for the background (12"x18"), a piece of brown Tru-Ray for the table (6"x12"), and a piece of the 9"x12" Pacon Basic Black Drawing Paper for the vase.  (Definitely not as dark as hers!)  I folded the black paper in 1/2 like a book, and with the fold on the side drew a gentle 'S' curve from the top to the bottom.  I cut on that line and unfolded the paper to discover my vase, which I then glued on the table in my artwork and decorated with the metallic gel sticks.
I drew a bunch of insects with the gel pens (and addeed some black Sharpie detail) on the Pacon black paper, and cut around them loosely.  On assorted scraps of Tru-Ray construction paper, I drew some simple flower and leaf shapes, stacked some pieces together and cut them all out.  I then arranged them, including the bugs I had created, and glued it all together.  Finally, I used the gel markers to add details - veins on the leaves, lines on the flower petals, dots in the centers of flowers, and so on.  I enjoyed making my sample, and I think this could be a really fun lesson to do with kids!

The final project is called 'Wacky Woven Flying Carpets', and is similar to a 2nd grade paper weaving project I have posted about before on this blog.  (Hint: it is much less complicated than it looks!)  I won't give you all the process details here,  but I will mention that all the black paper in the weaving is the Basic Black Drawing Paper and was decorated with the gel pens.  My idea is that after the paper weaving and patterning techniques are all complete, the weavings would be displayed on a sky mural, and that the students could have fun creating whatever should ride on their flying carpets:  cats on carpets? (I've done that before); rattlesnakes on rugs?; flying french fries?... you get the idea!  Silly is good!!! Or, the weavings can just be backed with construction paper as I did in the 2nd image below, for use in a display about repeating pattern and design. 
If you want more information about the paper I was provided to use for these lessons, you can find links to it here: Basic Black Sketch Diary, Basic Black Drawing Paper 9"x12", and Basic Black Art Roll 24"x10'.  And if you've never visited the Pacon website before, here is where you will find assorted projects and lesson plans.  And here's a link to their Facebook page.  I'm hopeful that in the near future you will find the full details of  my three lesson ideas included on their website!  Yippee!!!!

And finally - I enjoyed coming up with ideas how to use this paper, and I want to say  THANK YOU to Jessica at Pacon for giving me the materials and the opportunity.  It was fun! 


  1. Bravo! I love all these projects. The repeating shapes (scissors) project may be my favorite. Would love to try with 6th grade.

    1. Thanks, Rina. It's pretty easy! So, it could even be a good sub plan (the negative space lesson).