Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Patterned Personality Portraits

If I could tell you what led me to flip through that particular issue of School Arts from November 2008, I would... but I'm glad I did because it has led to one of our most successful middle school projects so far this year! The high school studio lesson written by teacher Michelle Flandera Surrena of Ohio, of the same title as this posting, seemed suited to the dynamics of my second hour class of 7th and 8th grade students. I assumed correctly that the lesson would be adaptable to the younger age level. If you can find a copy of this issue, the article is well-written and more comprehensive than I will outline in this post!

Goals for my students included the following:
1. Observe facial proportions to draw accurate self portrait contours.
2. Create and utilize a color palette that will promote unity, contrast, and emotional use of color (check out the artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser... the colors!!).
3. Incorporate creatively written "character sketches" into your work to personalize the meaning and add texture.
4. Create and add patterns to open spaces with colored pencil (see the work of Gustav Klimt).

Art history resource for color: selected works of Friedensreich Hundertwasser
Art history resource for pattern: selected works of Gustav Klimt

The How-To (condensed version):
1. Create contour line drawing of face on 16"x20" Bristol board or tag board. Outline with sharpie.
2. Use glue-water (equal parts Elmers to H2O) to decoupage cut or torn pieces of tissue paper to the surface.
3. Re-trace contours with Sharpie, and then use the marker to "fracture the space"-- some outlined by color, some followed natural facial lines.
4. Outline created shapes & spaces with handwritten text fragments.
5. Use colored pencil & fine point pen to create patterns within shapes.

The students worked on these for a very long time, and I was impressed and proud to see them become so engrossed by their work. Adding the text, in my opinion, made an enormous difference. Students were excited to write about what makes them unique... song lyrics, favorite jokes, and memories came pouring out. From a viewer's standpoint, I find that the words add textural interest to the work as well as emotional depth. Although I would never expect a viewer to read all the words on a single portrait, the little phrases captured even in the quickest of views provide a snapshot of the artist's vision and personality.

The first finisher-- I forgot my camera today!

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