Family how to: chalk printing

Published 1 September 2020

Try these two simple techniques and experiment with using chalk to make colourful abstract prints.

  • How-to: chalk printing

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    Looking up at the clouds

    Like many artists throughout history – from Claude Monet to J.M.W Turner and James Turrell, we’ve been inspired by the effects, colours and patterns made by clouds in the sky. What does the sky look like where you are?

    You can see some paintings of skies in our current exhibition Gauguin and the Impressionists, or try typing the word ‘sky’ into our Collection search engine.

    • Chalk printing materials

      What you need

      • Thick paper or card

      • Water

      • Chalk or soft pastels

      • Tray

      • Spray bottle

      • Sieve or grater

      • Knife

    • Chalk printing: step 1

      Step 1

      Go outside and take a look at the sky. What colours and patterns can you see?

    • Chalk printing step 2

      Step 2

      For the first printing technique — start by filling your tray with water.

    • Chalk printing step 3

      Step 3

      Choose colours that match the sky where you are. Regular chalk will give a lighter effect, where soft pastels will be brighter and bolder.

    • Chalk printing step 4

      Step 4

      Using a sieve, grate your chalk into the tray of water. Make sure to lightly dust the colour across the waters surface, making sure it doesn’t collect in a pile or sink to the bottom.

    • Chalk printing step 5

      Step 5

      Now try using a knife, scraping the chalk against it. This will create larger flecks of colour.

    • Chalk printing step 6

      Step 6

      To make a print, bend your paper and slowly lower it into the water. Allow the middle to touch the waters surface first, and try not to submerge it.

    • Chalk printing step 7

      Step 7

      Lightly hold the paper in place on the waters surface for 30 seconds.

    • Chalk printing step 8

      Step 8

      Gently peel the paper away from the corners, turning it over to reveal the print. Let any excess water run off into the tray.

    • Step 9

      Step 9

      For the second printing technique — start by lightly spraying your tray with water. This will stop the paper curling away from the tray.

    • Chalk printing Step 10

      Step 10

      Place the paper down and lightly spray it again with water.

    • Chalk printing step 11

      Step 11

      Grate and scrape the chalk directly onto the paper, spraying it with water as you go to make the colours merge and run.

    • Chalk printing step 12

      Step 12

      Pull your print away.

  • Admire your prints!

  • Chalk printing final
    • Sculpture workshop for families

      Families at the RA

      Whether it’s a free drop-in workshop or one of our fun and engaging Art Detective trails, the RA is brimming with colourful paintings and sculptures that are waiting to be explored. Everyone is welcome at the RA – and kids under 16 go free to all our exhibitions.

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