April 30, 2012

1 Fish 100% Success! Easy Gyotaku.

Here's a project with a 100% guaranteed success!
To get inspired I told the students the history of the Gyotaku. Some classes watched this PREZI. Others I just told the story of the history of Japanese Gyotaku. My spiel goes something like this. . I asked the students if they have ever seen a picture of a person holding a fish, looking very proud of his or her catch (I acted out my best proud fisherman pose.) Most said they had. I asked WHY would the fisherman want a picture with their catch? Most said to remember the fish and size. What if we didn't have cameras? How would we remember or show others the fish we caught after we ate it, sold it or threw it back? I then showed them the Gyotaku process and explained that Gyotaku means print fish in Japanese. Now artists make Gyotaku for it's beauty and not to record the size of their catch!

First we created the background details with oil pastels. I had handouts and posters with undersea plants  for them to get inspiration from.
Next we did a watercolor wash of ocean colors. The paper was a little moist which worked great for the prints. I carried an old towel with me to dry papers that were too wet. 
Finally we printed our fish. We don't have a big budget so I only have two rubber fish!

Rubber Fish from Dick Blick art supplies
Your probably wondering how I got around to all the tables with ONE fish.
Actually I'm lying I have two but I only brought out one.
I found when I was in control of the fish it went a lot more smoothly!
I applied the ink and kids put their paper on the top and pressed down.
I have one hour and some classes with 25 kids.
We did it! The students finished their backgrounds at different rates which helped and we discussed that when they finished they were ONLY printing the fish if their behavior was PERFECTION.
So guess what? Their behavior was perfection, even the most challenging ones!

Have students put the paper on the fish, NOT the fish on the paper.
This means no ink will get on their hands.
If students put the fish on the paper you are in for a long line at the sink!

Very smart! Have students write vocabulary word on the back of their paper!
This way they are more likely to remember it.


Megan Farkas said...

What grade did you do this with?

Unknown said...

Second and Third

Jessica Young said...

What a great lesson! Looks like it was a lot of fun too. I've been doing a unit on Japanese art with my 3rd graders, and this would tie right in if I had a rubber fish. Thanks for sharing! Did you use tempera paint, or printmaking ink? Or something different?

~Jessica (missyoungsartroom.blogspot.com)

Jessica Young said...

And one more thing....do you know how to pronounce "gyotaku"? I can't find a pronunciation guide for it online!

Mary said...

Gyotaku has been on my "to do list" for a long time. Your approach and enthusiasm has convinced me to do it with my summer class. Nice work by your students! (your rubber fish looks real with all the ink stains on it)

Phyl said...

Great lesson.

Every time someone posts about gyotaku, I feel like I have to tell my story. A LONG time ago (in the early 80's I think) I took an awesome 6-credit month-long summer class at Project Oceanology in Groton. It was a grad class for teachers, and everyone in the class was either an elementary teacher with an interest in science, or a high school science teacher. Except me. I was (then) a high school art teacher who likes science and loves the ocean. All of this gave me a lot of liberties in this class, since nobody knew what to make of my being there.

Anyhow - we spent most days in a research boat doing environmental testing on the Thames River Estuary and Long Island Sound. Often we trawled while on the water, and pulled all sorts of interesting stuff in the nets, including squid and more. One day we got a big flounder and I said "gyotaku!" I convinced everyone we had to try it with a real fish.

Into the lab, somehow I had some ink and some paper - but oh no, what about the fish? We needed to disable it. (this isn't a pretty story) Someone gave the fish a whack on the head, but it was SLIMY! So then we washed the fish w/dish detergent. Poor fish. Finally we actually did get some great prints from the fish, which I held onto for years.

Sorry so long - but I don't know of anyone else who ever tried it with a real fish!!!

Mrs. C said...

So cool!!! I bet the kids had a great time! The finished pieces look great! :)

Anonymous said...

Another fish story........A few years ago, our disrict's ESU or Area ed. Agency, put on an art teacher workshop. The presenter put on a gyotaku demonstration with REAL fish that her husband had caught the night before and put on ice overnight. There was some gross leakage from different orifices, the eye was spooky-milky and the smell was, to put it lightly, gag-worthy. But, silver lining, the prints were fabulous and I still have them! I will try to find them and take a photo to share. As I recall, she had us paint them on Japanese handmade paper with different colored flecks in it and we sprayed a border around the fish by masking the center with a smaller piece of paper. The paint was watercolor in small spritz bottles. I have never done it with my classes, but now that I've seen your rubber fish, Erica, I think I'll go "fishing" in the Blick catalog and "hook" me one or two! Bad jokes are my specialty, thank you very much:)


Unknown said...

Jessica I used ink. It was some old leftover stuff in the closet. Not sure the brand.

And yes I believe I can pronounce it! GHEEE oh ta ku

Thanks Mary they look so real! Especially when they are on the plate! "Will you be having the salmon or trout" is a line that makes them look at me like a crazy person. I'm not sure if they get the joke but hey, it makes me smile.

Love that story Phyl, I think three summers ago for no reason at all I brought home a whole fish and used acrylic on it. I was going to eat it but I don't think it worked out that way! A big FLOUNDER must have been beautiful!

Thanks Mrs. C
That sounds awesome! And the spritz bottle sound amazing! I have had a hard time finding good cheap spritz bottles lately! The dollar store is really slacking. . . the spritz is more of a spray then a mist.

lbfreer said...

Love fish printing! More info and inspiration-look up my friend Dinah Bowman. She does this for a living and even prints marlin and sailfish!