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Expressive Self Portraits

Quite possibly one of my favorite lesson plans that I do all year. When students hear that I am making them do ANOTHER self portraits, after we just finished up a realistic one, they ask WHY. Once we start working on these, their attitudes typically change and they are a lot more excited.

I like giving the students the option to explore symbolism a little bit further and consider what imagery they can use to show the world more about themselves, rather than just their appearances. The PowerPoint that I created for this lesson can be found here, https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Expressive-Self-Portrait-PowerPoint-3161112

I can thank the wonders of Pinterest for many of those photo examples, but I also chose to incorporate Frida Kahlo into this lesson. Frida has so many amazing examples of symbolism and she is truly such an inspiring artist and person, that I wanted my students to learn more about her. We had discussions about The Two Fridas, and also about one of her self portraits. We discussed the symbolism and imagery in her artwork and how it reflects her personality and mood.

Students found this to be very interesting. We also discussed more in depth realism, abstract, and non objective. I told students to consider how realistic they wanted this to be. They had the option to be more symbolism and do a silhouette rather than a realistic approach that would require them to do eyes, nose, mouth, etc. This allowed my students of all different skill levels to choose a way that would be successful for them.

I also gave them an option in what art mediums they wanted to use. They had the options of graphite, colored pencil, pastel, watercolor, or mixed media. After the presentation, I had students write 5-10 things about themselves in their sketchbooks. These could be interests, personality, mood, appearance, home life, friends, etc. We then broke those down and considered how to interpret them into a symbol or some sort of imagery.

Students brainstormed with the others at their tables and came up with some ideas. When they had enough ideas, they began a sketch of what their portrait would look like. I offered suggestions to make sure that students were challenging themselves enough, and were not doing things too hard. I told students that if they chose not to draw a realistic face, that they needed to put extra details somewhere else, to ensure that all students were still working the same amount.

I graded these using four main components. Subject Matter & Creativity, Use of Symbolism and Details, Craftsmanship, and Effort.

I was SO happy with how these turned out. Here are some of the great examples from my classes!

 

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Blackout Poetry

Blackout Poetry is one of those lessons that I’ve always been intrigued by, but I’ve never tried it. I have some pretty cool classes this year and decided to give it a try. I must say, I really enjoyed this lesson. We began this as a sort of introduction to a Unit on Words and Art. Following this lesson, students created Altered Books (blog post on that to follow later on)!

I introduced my classes to the idea of Words and Art and we discussed how words can be used to further get the point across. I showed them examples of both Blackout Poetry and Blackout Poetry with Illustrations. They were required to create a poem or phrase of their choice and then come up with an illustration that fit their idea.

We incorporated a few different concepts into this including:

Emphasis: How can you emphasize your poem and make it stand out from the rest of the words? How can you emphasize your illustration?

Movement: Is your poem easy to read or is it jumbled and somewhat confusing?

Contrast: Is there a strong contrast between your illustrations and words versus the actual page of the book?

Etc.

I would love to hear some other examples and perhaps how this lesson has been taken a step further! Like I said, I used this as an introduction to a Unit on Words and Art. I am very pleased with these results!

 

Megan

 

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Sgraffito Pots

Sgraffito is such a fun technique to use! For this project, I had students work a little bit smaller than normal, and I had them really focus in on the intricacy and details that they could incorporate into their designs. I had them sketch some sort of design. We also talked about Emphasis, and I encouraged them to use a bright colored glaze for the inside, since the outside was mostly black and white.

I asked students to have a lid, a handle, and if they had time, some sort of foot. Students really enjoyed this technique because it gave them the opportunity to draw freely and easily incorporate some of their favorite designs and ideas into their ceramic artwork.

Included are a few of my favorite examples!

 

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Watercolor Notans

This project was extremely successful for a variety of reasons. The first and most obvious, is that it wasn’t a super tedious project, and it did not require a ton of thought for the students. I purposely organized it so that this project would be worked on the last, short week before winter break. My students were almost mentally checked out anyway, but this really helped to keep them engaged and interested!

We had just begun a watercolor unit and students learned the following watercolor techniques, which were practiced on a strip of paper, with the definitions written on the back:

Wet Onto Wet

Graduated Wash

Dry Brush

Splatter

Blotting

Resist

Of course, there are many more different techniques to use, but these were the ones I wanted to focus on. We had an EXTREMELY relaxing day that began with me showing them various watercolor examples of work that is both Representational and Non-Representational. We discussed what the differences were and then they were asked to create a non-representational watercolor painting using at least four of the watercolor techniques that we discussed. This was also a great opportunity to discuss layering: we began with wet onto wet and lots of water, and as each new layer dried, they added less and less water and more dry brush techniques.

We then discussed positive and negative space. I showed them various examples until I felt that they had a clear understanding. Then, they went to their sketchbooks, where they created their own notan designs. We talked about designs being symmetrical or asymmetrical, and how each would look when reflected on their notan design. Lastly, students were given black squares to draw, cut, and glue their notan designs onto watercolor paper.

After this lesson, now that students have returned from break, I have them working on a watercolor and ink project, which will be posted in a few weeks. I felt that by doing this, it gave them the ability to add a lot of water and paint, and to not be afraid of messing something up with watercolor. This next project will focus on a more controlled, more detailed composition, and I think it is important that students experience both types!

Have you done anything similar to this?

High School Watercolor Notans Art Lesson
High School Watercolor Notans Art Lesson

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Chuck Close Inspired Acrylic Paintings

I created this unit for high school painting classes but I have also adapted it to fit my seventh grade classes. This unit is a series of two different paintings. This is a great thing to do once students have learned basic color theory, color mixing, etc.

To begin, pre assess the student’s knowledge of the following: Abstract, Chuck Close, Warm Vs. Cool Colors, Grid, Non-Objective and Acrylic. (For me, although I was teaching a high school painting class, some students did not know acrylic vs. watercolor)!

The first thing I taught them in this unit was the difference between warm and cool colors. We looked at various examples and talked about how they make us feel. I then taught them about Chuck Close. We looked at his work before he became paralyzed, then compared and contrasted it with the work that he did after he was paralyzed. We talked about his grid method and discussed how to set up a grid within our artwork. We discuss advantages and disadvantages of working with a grid. We then covered one more thing: Non-Objective art. We looked at various examples until I felt that students had a good understanding of what it meant.

The first painting served as a great practice for good craftsmanship and working with acrylics. Students were asked to create a non-objective acrylic painting using a grid and either warm or cool colors. This is how they turned out:chuckclose img_8956 img_9331 img_9332 img_9333 img_8645