The 8th graders have been working really hard on their new self portrait project. This project is definitely one of the harder art lessons because it requires understanding of 2 big concepts: gridding and showing value.
Now for the “cool” part about this self portrait… As the title “Shades of Summer” suggests, students got to add sunglasses to their pictures. Before we started any drawing, painted a small watercolor picture based on their favorite summer memory. A popular memory was going to the beach! Once these paintings were created, students stashed them in the drying rack and moved on to the gridding process.
The gridding process is a way to reproduce and/or enlarge an image that you want to draw. I started off by taking a photograph of each student in the classroom so that they could each have a reference photo.
We all know how much 8th graders just LOVE to have their pictures taken (not really..but I got them anyways)! Each student got their picture and began drawing a grid on top of their image. Their grid ended up being 6 by 9 inches. Each student got a large piece of drawing paper. On this paper, I asked students to reproduce the grid that they drew on their reference photo. In order to keep an equal ratio, students had to draw a grid out on the new paper with doubled measurements. 6/9 x 2= 12/18.
Once students had drawn a grid on top of both their reference photo and drawing paper, students labeled their boxes and began transferring the image. This is the part where they really had to be patient. If you don’t go box-by-box and draw carefully, the whole gridding part was all for nothing! I told students to leave empty ovals for their eyes because we would be adding sunglasses on top of them.
We have also been reviewing and building up on last year’s value unit. Making things pop out and recede on a flat piece of paper is a tricky thing! It takes patience, practice, and focus. 8th graders have been taking notes in their sketchbook, filling out worksheets, and practicing creating value chains.
I asked 8th graders to label the highlights, midtones, and shadows on their reference pictures and to begin transferring the darker shades into their drawings.
Once value was added to their faces, students retrieved the watercolor paintings they made in the very beginning. They selected a style of sunglasses they liked from my print-outs and cut the appropriate shapes out from their watercolor painting. They glued the sunglasses lenses on top of their drawings.
Now, as a project nears an end I like to hold some kind of class critique. I organized the self portraits-in-progress onto the rotating art display and paper clipped numbers (1-14) to the tops of the pictures.
I printed out a sheet for students to fill out. For each portrait, each student had to list 3 things that the artist did a great job on and 1-2 things the artist could do to finish up their piece. I divided the class into 2 groups so that it did not get too crowded around the rotating art rack.
Quite frankly, I was blown away by the group’s wonderful attitude and sincere comments. The critique couldn’t have gone better. On Monday, students will finish their self portraits by making some adjustments to their pictures and shading in their backgrounds with color. I am very excited to share their final pieces in next week’s blog!
Have a great weekend!