Relief printing is a method where a printing block, plate or matrix that has had ink applied to its surface, but not to any recessed areas, is transferred to paper.

Here’s how I came up with this project…

Back in 2014 I was student teaching and I had several classes of 5th graders make one-color relief prints of their favorite foods. There were many awesome prints of pizza, hot dogs, ice cream, etc. We used construction paper, scissors, glue sticks, sponge brushes, and tempera paint. The kids loved the project and it was a very cheap and simple way to make prints. Now, years later, I decided to take the relief print project one step further and use multiple colors.

The subject matter I used for this project is a very recognizable purple monster from a giant fast food corporation which will remain nameless, but they can supposedly stack hamburgers all the way to the moon or something like that. While visiting my parents house recently, my kids unearthed a box of random toys. Among the toys was a plastic “meal box” toy of the unnamed purple monster wearing a white sheet/dressed up as a ghost. I liked it and it gave me the idea to make a set of relief prints featuring altered versions of characters from this unnamed fast-food restaurant. This is the first one…

What you will need: chip board(or matte board), glue, pencil, Xact-O knife, carbon paper, blue painters tape, Mod Podge, print roller, tempera paint, sponge brush.

Below are step by step instructions to make your own multi-color relief print.

1) Pick a paper and paper size to use for your prints. I used a 50-sheet pad of 14″x17″ Strathmore 70lb. Drawing paper. Draw your image to scale.


2) Make a sheet of carbon paper roughly the same size as your paper size. Use scotch tape to tape sheets together to create a larger sheet if necessary.


3) Make sure your paper, carbon paper and chip board are all the same size. Place your materials in this order: Chip board on the bottom. Carbon paper in the middle, and your drawing/art on top.


4) Use your pencil to trace over your original drawing. Remember, you are going to print multiple colors so only trace the parts of the drawing for each corresponding color.


5) After you have traced your image, remove your drawing and carbon paper. Your image should have transferred onto your chip board.


6) Use an Xact-O knife to cut out your image.


7) Use the excess chip board and line it up with another sheet of chip board that will be your base. Use blue painters tape to tape the 2 sheets of chip board together(this will ensure that all of your colors will line up later).


8) Apply glue to the entire surface of the BACK of your cut-out piece and insert it into the the two taped-together sheets of chip board like a puzzle piece.


9) Take off the blue painters tape and carefully lift of the top excess sheet of chipboard, leaving your chip board base sheet and cut-out shape. This will for here on out be referred to “the printing plate”. Set aside to dry.


10) Spray the printing plate with a fixative.


11) Use a foam brush to apply a healthy amount of Mod Podge to the surface of your printing plate(this works as a sealant and will keep the chip board from soaking up wet tempera paint and falling apart).


12) Use blue painters tape to tape the bottom color/first printing plate to a flat surface such as a table. Tape down anything raised with a flat surface(CD cases work great!) next to the top and both sides of the printing plate(this will make sure your paper lines up to your printing plate).


13) Pour tempera paint into a flat pan. Use a roller or a sponge brush to apply paint to the print surface.



14) Line up paper to printing plate and use a roller to transfer the ink from the printing plate to the paper.


15) Carefully peel off the printed paper sheet and lay on any available flat surface to dry. Paper drying racks or wire clothes line/paper clips are ideal, but the floor works too.



Here is a photo of my finished print.



Crossover Appeal / Record Review No.01

Chipmunk Punk
Label: Excelsior
Released: 1980

For my first record review ever, I chose to review Chipmunk Punk by the Chipmunks. I first started sharing music with my twin daughters a few years ago with the goal in mind that the music I exposed them to would go beyond nursery rhymes and be something that we could all enjoy together. After setting that criteria, my brain immediately went to Chipmunk Punk and I made a point to track down a copy. I am a big fan of punk music and I have seen this album in used bins at record stores my whole life. The search didn’t take long and I soon purchased a used LP at one of my favorite records stores in the USA, Total Drag(SIoux Falls, SD), for $7.99. Money well spent.

While the album title is a little misleading; the music is mostly pop rock and new wave radio hits from the late 70s, it still makes for a fun listen and kids sure love those squeaky Chipmunk voices. This record appealed to me personally because I like the original versions of these songs which are from one of my favorite eras of popular music. My daughters like it because the songs are catchy and they think Chipmunk voices are awesome. Standout tracks include covers of: “Let’s Go” by the Cars, “Refugee” by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, and “My Sharona” by the Knack. In regard to the “My Sharona” cover, there is something a little creepy and sinister about Alvin signing the lyrics “…give it up, such a dirty mind. I always get it up, for the touch of the younger kind” on a record marketed for children. Try not to think about it –  just sit back and enjoy that jumpy bass line.

For super hardcore “punk” parents hoping for Chipmunk punk covers of hits by Discharge, the Exploited, GG Allin, or the Dead Boys, this might not be what you are looking for. For parents looking for some middle-ground with your kid’s questionable musical choices, this is a great album for kids and parents to dance, sing-along, and play air guitar together. Chipmunk Punk is a favorite in our house and frequently requested by the kids. I even recall a recent incident where the 3-year-old twins had a meltdown because I couldn’t play the Chipmunk Punk vinyl record in the car. That took some explaining – though not as much explaining as the time I had to explain how the US Postal Service works and why things don’t instantly arrive/appear in the mailbox when you order them online.

This album is kind of hard to find digitally. I don’t think it ever came out on CD and I couldn’t find it on any music streaming services. You can find the complete album on Youtube, but you should really go out and find the record. It’s everywhere.

Update – September 7th, 2017

A lot has happened since my first post way back in June of 2017(mostly, hawking books and turning 40). The original plan for this website was to post weekly about my work, art project ideas for kids, and record reviews. Naivete, self deprecation, and time have all played a part in the void between posts. I have awakened!!! – so check back weekly for new posts.
Promotion has never been my forte, but I have spent a lot of time reaching out to bookstores across the USA about carrying The Art of the Bedtime. I’ve been doing so much emailing and arm twisting that I haven’t had much time to work on new art – as should be expected for a self-published author/illustrator with no distribution.
Nonetheless, The Art of the Bedtime has been well received and is already on its 3rd pressing. I have done several book readings/signings and even got some newspaper coverage. I plan to do more book readings/signings this fall and will post dates/times when confirmed. If you are a bookstore and would like me to do a reading, message me at:

***photo taken at Almost Music/Jackson Street Books. 3925 Farnam St, Omaha, NE 68131

Welcome to Ethan’s Rainbow

Welcome to my brand new website. This is the place to find my current work, past work, ideas for art projects and hopefully even a monthly record review.

First up…
The Art of the Bedtime” children’s book.
A fun bedtime book for kids and parents to enjoy together. Let’s make bedtime great again!
The book is available for purchase online.
Buy a copy HERE.