Wacky Portraits

5th Graders are learning about facial proportions and patterns while working on their self-portraits… will they be wacky? will they be serious? what will they want to express with their portraits? we will have to wait and see!csf6jv1wiaajh0g

Summer Art- High School Portraits

Using her iPhone photo as a reference, she created a self portrait with charcoal on Canson paper.

Using her iPhone photo as a reference, she created a self portrait with charcoal on Canson paper.

Summer is in full swing here at home. School days have been replaced with pool time, gardening, weekly road trips and of course lots of art. My daughter was only able to take a fundamentals class in the 9th grade because of her busy band/music schedule. While I was volunteering at the HS as a judge for the art show, I spoke with the AP Art teacher and we agreed that we needed to get her into the AP art class in the fall. I have been working with her over the years and now we are going full-speed ahead with daily sketches and studio time. Last week we focused on the self-portrait. We sketched figures and worked on the proportions of the face. She is a huge fan of Manga so it was a stretch to get her to draw realistically. I had her look through the book 500 Portraits so she could the endless possibilities. She chose her favorite portraits out of the book and after discussing what style she liked, I suggested and demonstrated the materials she should use.

I am constantly amazed at the outcomes of my students (and daughter) I tried to cover many things that I learned in college that I wish I’d known for high school. She is so proud of herself, and I am looking forward to sharing more of her work. Above is her first “real” self portrait. I had her use charcoal- a media she’d never used before. It’s a great start to the summer.

(I did not notice my 10 year old son was in the living room listening in on the lesson while he played on his itouch. Next time I’m having him join in…)

The portrait my 10 year old drew in my sketchbook.

The portrait my 10 year old drew in my sketchbook.

Gustav Klimt Project- What inspires you?

I just finished a very fun lesson with my 3rd grade class that I wanted to share. It was inspired by the book Klimt and His Cat.  We all know 3rd graders love animals, mosaics and metallic paper. It was a win!!

The big idea behind this lesson was, “What inspires you?” I shared with the students information about the life of Gustav Klimt and some of his artwork. (*I had to pick carefully as some is not child appropriate) I also showed them examples of the different influences in his art, like Egyptian Art, Byzantine Churches and Mosaics, Nature and Patterns, other Artists, and his beloved cats. Knowing that not everyone is a cat person- I gave the students a chance to commemorate their favorite animal friend in an Art Nouveau style- inspired by Klimt’s patterns and metallics. Some chose cats, some chose dogs… and in the process, they were able to think of their own personal symbols and influences. I was able to share a few spreads from the book Klimt and His Cat to support the lesson.

A Lesson in Contrast

Teaching a kindergarten class for only a half hour every other week can be a bit of a challenge. I wanted to do something more than a little arts and crafts lesson so I ended up making a plan that they will work on for the next two classes. So far they’ve absolutely loved it! you know something is going right when you have a few that get teared up when it is time to leave the art room… I based this lesson on the book “The Mitten” by Jan Brett. The goal was to teach them about contrast while practicing their cutting, pasting and tracing skills. They even got some writing practice with a worksheet I printed that they could draw on and tell me about their favorite animal. Below is the IMG_3156lesson plan:

Essential Question: Can you design a mitten that will stand out on the white background?

School Goals: Cutting, Pasting, Contrast, Contour lines, Shapes, Printing, Writing

Learning Goal:

  1. To encourage students to try many different types of patterns to fill their drawings with lots of interesting colors and designs so that their mittens will stand out against the white background.
  2. Practice Cutting Skills
  3. Practice Tracing

Materials and Resources:

  1. Two- 9×12 pieces of white paper (or one white and one color of their choice for mittens.)
  2. Construction paper crayons
  3. Scissors
  4. Mitten Stencil
  5. Book “The Mitten” by Jan Brett
  6. Foam stamps for footprints, grey or blue ink pads
  7. Writing worksheets


I sat them down on the rug and read the book out loud to them which took about 15-20 minutes. At the end I asked them why Nikki’s Baba didn’t want to make a mitten “white as snow” and we looked at the illustrations in the book. They loved sneezing a long with the bear! I had prepared a white mitten and a bright colored mitten and we talked about contrast as I held them against a white board. I told them they would be helping design a new set of mittens for Nikki that would be easier to find in the snow. I had them return to their seats, and after a brief demonstration of how they would be tracing their mittens, we handed out the tracers, pencils and paper. Their abilities are pretty varied so some found this easy and some really needed a lot of help. For those who were done, I had printed out some writing worksheets on “My favorite animal from the story is ____” and they wrote the name of the animal and drew in the space below. They were able to take this with them. As I went around to help we talked about their favorite animal. Next class we will be printing the footprints on the white background paper with foam animal footprint stamps I made for them, cutting out and coloring their mittens, then gluing them onto the white paper they have already stamped with animal footprints.

Helpful hints: I would say that the worksheets are a definitely good add-on to this project. Print up a variety of them. This lesson could be modified to one 45 minute class. Be sure to talk to their other teachers to be sure they haven’t already read the book. I lucked out because some had read “The Hat” which they were able to recognize hedgie.

IMG_3165 IMG_3163

Inner Animal Drawing

Students were required to pick an animal they felt best represented them. We talked about the symbolism of animals in art throughout history, their own character traits and how they would apply them in a hybrid drawing of themselves as the animal. Emphasis is placed upon their animal character.  We had noticed how some of them are very interested in manga drawings so we allowed them to use that style if they wanted. We also had my daughter (who is in high school) visit and do a demonstration on Manga drawing. They seemed to really enjoy this project. Some students had never worked on black paper or the pastels so this really pushed them out of their comfort level. After a brief demonstration with the materials they were inspired to get to it.

Materials: Heavy black drawing paper, oil pastels, prismacolors


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