Monday, October 22, 2012

Warm/Cold Self Portraits

While reviewing color theory and discussing the use of CONTRAST in artwork, 7th and 8th grade students created these fantastic self-portraits. I found a similar lesson on another teacher's classroom blog, but sadly neglected to bookmark the link and never could find it again!

Materials we used:
18"x24" watercolor paper
Watercolor paint
colored pencils

Preliminary work:
1. Our class spent several periods sketching our faces from the reflection in a mirror. We warmed up with blind contour drawings, and progressed to gesture drawings, learning to position facial features. When drawing the final self-portraits, students were encouraged to draw their figures slightly off-center, including the table in front of them for depth, and objects from the room in the background.

2. The initial drawing was traced in Sharpie (we used both fine and ultra-fine tip). Before painting, students made swoopy pencil lines over the top of the work to fracture the space into smaller sections.

Watercolor layer:
1. Looking at sample artworks from history on the projector, we discussed the use of color temperature to bring objects forward (warm colors) or make them recede (cool colors).

2. Students practiced the wet-on-wet watercolor painting technique on scratch paper (first paint with pure water, then add pigment; let the water spread the pigment).

3. Using primarily warm colors in the focal point and cool colors in the background, students were able to demonstrate use of contrast and emphasis. They were shown how to paint one fractured section at a time (sections could be determined by pencil lines, Sharpie lines, or both).

Texture layer:
When the paint was finished and dry, students used colored pencils to add different line and shape patterns to each fractured space in their artwork. They could use warm or cool colors to do this as long as their choices unified and balanced the work. The colored pencil should be noticeable but not overpowering.

Overall, students found positive individual success with this lesson. It was excellent for review of art vocabulary, making good use of so many elements of art and principles of design. The use of color and texture to create contrast and emphasis was so key to the outcome of this project that students with less advanced drawing skills were still able to achieve a high amount of success.

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