Gyotaku’s history is rooted in the fishing industry of ancient Japan. When fisherman came into port they would lay their fish on a piece of newspaper to measure the weight and size of the catch. When the fish was removed from the paper, the water from its scales caused the colors on the newspaper to bleed and smudge, leaving a beautiful print depicting scales, fins, and texture. As time progressed, spectators found the prints so beautiful that they began to paint the fish with paints and print them onto papers as a form of artwork, illustrating beautiful scenes, colors, and movement.
Little artists created artworks based on observation of familiar objects and scenes in the environment exemplifying the art element of SPACE (composition), movement, balance, and overlapping in their artwork. Students used historical artworks such as paintings, photographs & drawings to answer questions about the past, then recreated a Japanese style cultural artwork as evidenced by the printmaking activity and “chop” (Japanese characters).