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I really liked taking Making Faces with Lynn Whippe. The two week format was a lot to absorb, so I’m planning to rewatch the videos over the summer and make some more faces in order to focus in on how to use some of these ideas with students next year. I do know that I will definitely be teaching one or two Portrait ATC assignments inspired by this course! Stay tuned. 🙂

 

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Making Faces has begun! The course is only two weeks long, and I signed up a few days after the start date, so I’ve been playing a bit of catchup with the assignments.

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I’m currently teaching two self-portrait lessons–one with second graders and one with third graders. After watching the course description video, I realized that my portrait lessons often focus on self-portraits and I began to question why that is. Yes, self-portrait assignments are great for developing observation skills, practicing mixing tans, browns and beige skin tones and personal expression. But I’d also like to mix it up a bit.

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Each of the six lessons in this course is presented as a 20-25 minute video. Lynn provides multiple prompts for “warming up” and encourages being playful and experimental throughout the process. Below are a few images from lessons 1-3. 🙂

 

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I love self-portraits. They are such a great opportunity for students to express themselves. Over the past two years, I’ve been looking at how I align my drawing curriculum vertically. One of the benefits of being a “specialist” is that I get to teach students from year to year. This allows me to see student’s progress over time and to find specific ways to help students navigate obstacles and celebrate successes. This year, first graders were challenged to create a crayon and watercolor self portrait.

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First, I reviewed the words “self-portrait” and “proportion.” As I demonstrated how to break the process into smaller steps, students took turns using a checklist to help “teach” me the steps. (I knew I wanted to create my own checklist, so I looked online for inspiration. I liked the format of this one and decided to create a more elementary-appropriate version to use with my students.)

Then students practiced looking in a mirror, observing carefully, and drawing a self-portrait in their sketchbook. After drawing with pencil, students had the option of coloring their sketch with crayon or colored pencil (if they had time). Some students also decided to trace their drawing with a Sharpie before coloring it in.

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Next, students enlarged their portrait onto a 10″ x 15″ piece of watercolor paper. Students drew with pencils and drew a pattern in the background. (I provided a double-sided handout for students to use as a resource.) Then, students had the option of tracing their lines with a Sharpie, and then colored their face, clothes, and background with crayons.

I often think of observational drawing as a pretty straight-forward practice. Watching my students work reminded me of how many decisions you actually have to make when drawing something from observation. What you draw, and how you draw it, reflect what you are paying attention to (and what you are not aware of). During this process, also I noticed a lot of creative thinking! One student accidentally colored part of his eye with a little bit of green crayon. He was a little upset and not sure what to do to fix it. I asked him how he thought he might solve his problem. After we discussed a few possibilities, he decided to use whiteout to cover up the green crayon… and voila! It’s hard to tell it was even there. Another student noticed that she had lost a tooth since first drawing her portrait, so decided to erase one of her teeth before painting! 🙂

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After coloring, students used watercolors to paint their portrait. I love the way this student mixed and painted her skin tones!

How to you teach self-portraiture to first graders?

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Students in 6th and 7th grade will be moving to a temporary school next year during the renovation process. To commemorate their time here, students were challenged to create a portrait based on their learning experiences, feelings, and memories of their current school. These portraits will be hung up over the summer, transforming the walls of their new school into an art gallery.

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Today 6th graders discussed portraiture and began thinking of how to transform a portrait in a humorous way. While I photographed students one by one, the rest of the class began cutting out facial features from of magazines. Next week they’ll start to combine the found images to create an “altered selfie.”