Artist Trading Cards: Marbling and Collage


Lesson plan:

Students will learn how to create artist trading cards through marbling and collage, and understand that part of the beauty of making art is that it can be shared with others.  After introducing the lesson with a short demonstration on marbling and collage, as well as skit about trading the cards, students and teachers will break up into small groups.  Two tables were set up with collage materials and two tables were set up with marbling materials.  The students chose where they wanted to start and began exploring the materials.  The teachers at the marbling station gave another demonstration and worked along with the students.  Everyone seemed to be very excited about the marbling because it was new and exciting, and through this process they learned how mixing different colors and swirls in the shaving cream produced different results.  When working with collage students cut out images in magazines and collaged them together on paper.  Through collage students were able to create unique compositions and color schemes.  Some students even mixed the mediums by collaging on top of their marble design, demonstrating their creative ability to mix mediums without being told to do so.  At the end of the lesson everyone was excited to share their cards with each other, and received great joy from sharing and receiving unique artworks.

Key Concepts: Color, Patterns, Collage, Composition, Exchanging Artwork.

Essential Understandings:

1.) Part of the joy of creating art is that it can be shared with others.

2.) Unconventional materials such as shaving cream mixed with acrylic paint can create unique and exciting outcomes.  More conventional materials such as magazine collage can also create unique outcomes through the choice of composition and colors chosen to create the collage.


Explore Materials: Students will explore how multiple materials can be used in cohesion to create a composition (Colorado Visual Arts Standard Sixth Grade 3.2 Invent and Discover to Create).

Connect Personal Artwork to a Community: Students will create multiple trading cards and learn how art can be used to bring a community together. They will exchange their work with other students in class. (Colorado Visual Arts Standard Sixth Grade 4.2 Relate and Create to Transfer

Skills: Collaboration, Invention, Composition, Connecting with Community


We started the class by asking student if they have and use trading cards, most answered yes and had prior knowledge about cards like Pokemon and Magic the Gathering. We had a new student named Tyler who had a lot more knowledge about Artist Trading Cards, he even held up a deck of cards that he had made with his own characters. We explained to the class what information is needed on a trading card and did a skit of us trading with each other. We introduced two new techniques they could use, marbling and collage. People broke up into tables according to what technique they wanted to try out first. The class was evenly divided between the two stations.

Nick seemed to really enjoy color mixing. In his tub he spent the whole class mixing various browns, oranges, and yellows. He even exclaimed, ” I am making Mahogany.” He continues to show an advanced understanding on color theory. Another student that continued working on past explored compositions is Kelsey. She  made one card with and image and continued her fascination with intricate patterns and colors.  Zachary and his Paraprofessionals really enjoyed marbling, he would laugh and smile when his hands touched the shaving cream. Multiple students were having realization of how collage and marbling could be used to create smaller compositions. Some students focused on a theme, while others made individual works.

At the end of making the cards everyone participated in a light clean up, and then began trading cards. Some students like, Ashlee decided to spread her cards out on the table for everyone to see. Other students like Christopher felt more comfortable walking around and see who they wanted to trade with. Everyone walked away with new cards, some decided to trade all of their cards, so they could collect multiple artist trading cards.

Nick worked on multiple prints from one tub, after every printing he slightly changed some of the colors. Nick focused mostly on earth tones in this series demonstrating his clear understanding of color theory and mixing.


Taken near the end of class. Kelsey is holding up a new card ( left) and the card she traded for it (right). Her own card shows her continued exploration of patterns utilizing lines and colors.
Jared continued to work individually with Willow, he enjoyed mixing the colors but did not like getting shaving cream or paint on himself. He seemed more interested in creating swirls than printing them on paper. After printing a couple pieces of paper, he continued to swirl the colors until they mixed all together. He said, “Look, they turned green!”
Ashlee focused her time solely on making marbling cards. She made multiple series only featuring one color. Inspired by the recent celebration of Valentine’s day, her first series focused on the color pink.  She is pictured here showing her yellow series. She also printed green marbled cards.
Heidi holding up the cards she ended up with at the end of class. The front Egyptian theme was her own design. Heidi divided her time in class between marbling and collage. As she was making this card she would teach her table information about King Tut while she cut out images from an article about his artifacts. She strategically placed a smaller picture of a sarcophagus to cover words that were on the front cover of the magazine. Heidi also made realizations during marbling, she stated, ” If you mix the shaving cream a lot and push the colors down your print will have more of a solid color, but if you only mix a little bit you get a really strong marble effect. “
Tyler holding up a new traded card (left) and his own collage (right). Since he already understood how to make and how to use artist trading cards, Tyler focused on creating environments for his dragons with his collage pieces. This card shows the environment for a dragon that lives in a forested area. The dragons are “fed” through large crystals that energize them. This demonstrates an advanced understanding of the way visual imagery can be manipulated to fit the aesthetic desires of the artist. Very impressive Tyler!

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