Posted on

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,

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!


Posted on

Realistic Self Portraits

Ahhh self portraits! Some kids love em, some kids absolutely hate em.

I start out by teaching basic cartooning. I feel like this loosens kids up a bit, and it also allows them to consider showing emotions. Cartoons have such exaggerated emotions and I feel like it is great practice for students to consider how to show emotions within their own portraits.

After cartooning, we spend some time focusing on each facial feature. We spent a day on eyes, a day on noses, a day on mouths, and a day on ears/hair. I graded these as progress, so I told students that as long as I saw effort, they would get full points. I took off points if they did not consider value or shading, or if they were misusing their cell phones.

I collected the facial features sketches and we moved on to proportion. To switch things up a bit, I decided to have my students do group drawings. Each group started with a face outline. They set up all of the proportions- we looked at an example on the board of where the lines should be. Where the eyes sit on, the noses, how far apart the eyes go, and where the ears go, etc. These can be found online.

I had students set up the face and then draw one realistic eye. After drawing, they were asked to switch with someone else. The second student drew the second realistic eye. Each time they switched, the student had to consider where each facial feature would go. These ending up looking like really creepy mugshots and my kids absolutely loved them!

This took about two days, because we wanted to make them look realistic and shade well. At the end, we did a critique. Students were asked to go around and identify anything that looked proportionally “off”. Comments included things such as “eyes are too far apart,” “ears are too high”, “mouth is too close to nose” etc. Students got the sketch that they had originally started with and they held onto it for reference.

Lastly, I introduced the final assessment. Students drew a realistic photo of themselves. I asked them to bring in a picture of themselves. I opted to do it this way rather than looking at mirrors because I wanted them to be able to compare and contrast the values and progress of their drawings with the actual picture.

Students had two options for this- they could choose to freehand their portrait or use a grid. We had used a grid earlier in the year for realistic animal eyes, the link for that lesson can be found here.

If students wanted to grid, they could either do an outline first, or go square by square and shade everything completely. As a beginning Drawing & Painting and class, I felt that this approach really helped my students understand and be able to take their time throughout this assignment.

Here are the results!

Realistic Self Portraits High School Lesson Plan

Posted on

Pastel Mannequins

This was a quick lesson that only took a few classes. I noticed my students were struggling with Analogous vs. Complementary Colors. I had students complete an oil pastel worksheet for the first day, where they practice different blending techniques and ways to get different results with oil pastels.

Once we finished, we viewed some examples. We focused on composition and zooming in to really fill up the space. Students sketched 2-4 different mannequin poses in their sketchbooks, complete with shading and at least 7 different values.

Then, students were asked to select their most interesting and favorite composition. They then selected an analogous color scheme of their choice and shaded in their mannequin using the oil pastel. They also were allowed to use black and white to create their shadows and their highlights.

I love these results!!


Posted on

Shape Vs. Form Legos

One of the questions on my Benchmark exam asks the students to identify the difference between Shape and Form. While this is something that I felt is simple, I noticed many of my kids struggled with it!

I wanted to do a project that focused on shape versus form to really help students understand how the two differ. We had done some observational drawings already but I wanted to do something that allowed them to focus on WHY we were shading. I wanted to focus on the illusion of form that is created when you are shading, using highlights, shadows, etc.

As a sketchbook warmup, I had students create themselves as if they were a lego character. We discussed how legos are three dimensional, they can be picked up, held, etc. So I told them to consider that as they were sketching (I didn’t want to see any flat lego people)! Students personalized them according to their physical features, character traits, interests, hobbies, etc.

I then showed students some examples of lego drawings. We talked about two different approaches to this. The first was for the students to construct a composition that was more structured and orderly. I then demonstrated how to set up a composition using two point perspective techniques to create realistic legos. The second option was for students to create a more hap hazard composition, where the legos were not lined up perfectly and were instead kind of thrown onto the surface. If they chose this, they did not need to use perspective techniques and could free hand the legos, as long as the legos were still three dimensional.

I felt that this project was challenging, but as the drawings were finished, I could tell my students were really proud of the hard work they had put into this. I also had them do an exit slip and nearly everyone was able to distinguish the difference between shape versus form, hooray!

Overall, I found this lesson to be really engaging- the students were definitely concentrated and focused throughout the entire time, and also rewarding- I was able to get my classes to identify shape vs. form, and they also ended up being very proud of themselves for completing this assignment!

IMG_2964 IMG_2963 IMG_2962 IMG_2961 IMG_2960 IMG_2959 IMG_2958 IMG_2957 IMG_2956 IMG_2955 IMG_2954 IMG_2952

Posted on

Color Study Composition Still Lifes

This lesson is one of my favorites, why you may ask??

Because there is so much to cover in our curriculum calendar. There is so much that kids need to be learning. I want to have time to teach them extra, because art is so cool and so interesting. But how do I do that if I have no time??

In order to make time, I created a lesson that focuses in on A TON of things that are listed in the curriculum calendar. This lesson covers the following topics:

We discussed Composition- Students learned about Rule of Thirds, Grouping, Emphasis with Color, etc. Students were asked to create a composition from their still life objects, using either three, four, or five boxes.

We discussed Color Theory. Before doing this project, I had students do a lot of worksheets and exercises to learn about Primary, Secondary, Analogous, Complementary, Monochromatic, Warm and Cool Colors.

We discussed shading and use of value. Before doing this project, students had created Value Animal Eye Drawings (which is also posted on my blog), to practice shading with just black and white. Adding color in the next step, in my opinion.

So there are a ton of different ways to present this lesson, and a ton of ways to alter it.

color fullsizerender-2-copy-6 fullsizerender-2-copy-7 fullsizerender-2-copy-8 fullsizerender-2-copy-9 fullsizerender-2-copy-10

Posted on

Personalized Mandalas

After finishing Contour & Blind Contour Line Drawings, I wanted my students to take a different approach to our focus on Line, Shape, and Color. I wanted to do something completely different from the contour and blind contour lines… something more focused, intricate, neat, organized, etc. I decided to do Mandalas!

This was my first time teaching this lesson and I really love the results! I typically have sketchbook prompts posted on the board when students come in. They begin drawing for the first ten minutes or so of class. The week before starting mandalas, I had students draw symbols or designs that were simple, yet described themselves. I had students draw bows, flowers, bikes, ice cream, pizza, basketballs, baseball, just to name a few. Students built up many small symbols in their sketchbooks.

We then took a look at Mandalas. Students were guided through setting up a circular grid using compasses. I asked students to personalize their mandalas into an original composition. Again, they were asked to choose a color scheme or a color combination of some sort.

Students were focused and really enjoyed this project. At the end, I had a google classroom assignment that was essentially an Exit Slip. It asked students to Compare and Contrast the difference between the Contour and Blind Contour Line Drawing Vs. Mandalas. I also asked students questions that were personal to their work, to offer them a reflection opportunity to discuss what they did or did not like.

This was hands down one of my favorite lessons I have taught! Pictures below!


Posted on

6th Grade Monochromatic Paintings

This quarter, I had a very challenging sixth grade class. It was all mixed levels, some very interested and educated in art, and others with absolutely no interest and no experience. This particular class required extra chairs to be sent to my room, because there were about 30 students. One very successful lesson that I taught was a Monochromatic Painting.

I really enjoyed this lesson because it allowed a great introduction to basic Color Theory. Students learned about Primary and Secondary Colors, Analogous and Complementary Colors, Monochromatic Colors, and Warm Vs. Cool Colors. We took some time focusing on the different schemes and completing worksheets and discussions until I felt that students could pass a basic color theory test.

Once students passed the color theory portion, we began painting. Students were asked to select a monochromatic color palette (black, white, and one additional color of their choice). They needed to create a value scale using those colors. We spent some time focusing on value and how it adds great detail to a work of art. Students spent some time creating a value scale and aimed to create 5-7 different shades. This was also a great time for students with no artistic background to practice painting, how to hold a paintbrush, how to apply paint, etc.

The next step was focusing on the composition and subject matter of their paintings. We discussed creative and interesting subject matter. Students were asked to sketch two different ideas that they wanted to paint. I counted their sketches as a classwork grade, which I typically do so students work hard on them.

Once their sketches were approved, I gave them a canvas and let them start painting. I graded them on Creativity and Subject Matter, Use Of Values (that they were able to mix colors effectively), Craftsmanship, and Effort and Participation.

Here are some of the final paintings!

Posted on

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