Digital Self-Portraits

Word PortraitThis is a lesson that can be done with upper elementary all the way to high school art.  As a group, we studied portraiture, specifically self-portraits.  Students are asked to take a photograph of themselves and convert it to a black and white digital image.  This can be done with any basic software that comes with your computer’s operating system, in addition to photo-editing apps available on smart phones and tablets.

  • As a class, we discussed character and character traits.
  • What character traits best described them?
  • If you made a portrait solely based on your character traits, which words would you want to include?

Then, the students made a bubble map of approximately 5-10 words of their character traits.  Similar to a Wordle, the most important character traits were repeated most often.  We also discussed value and form and how artists used value to create form with shades and tints.

Depending on the availability of software in your school, there are a couple of ways to go about this – students can use a presentation tool (like PowerPoint or Keynote) or they can use more software like Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator (although since text is involved, Illustrator is more ideal).  The reason I do not recommend a drawing program is largely because at the completion of their portrait, they will no longer need their photograph.

Students first placed their image onto their canvas.  Next, focusing only on the dark values and shadows, the students added their characteristics in the font of their choice, paying attention to size and rotating as needed.  To accommodate students in middle and high school, I would recommend having students using the value scale to add words in the mid-range values as well, to show more modelling and form.  After they finished, students would remove their photograph, choose a color for the background, and print.

Kindergarten: Rockin’ Robots

Rockin' RobotsSince we meet for just a handful of times during the year, I like to make sure each lesson is jam-packed with different techniques and media.   One of my favorite lessons to teach to Kindergarten is on robots.  We discuss robots and their purposes and function in society.  This project is great for exploring collage, texture, printmaking, and splatter painting.

When creating their robots, students first use metallic paint to imitate the texture of metal.  They organize and lay out their pieces to form their robot.  On the second day, students assemble and glue their robot to a brightly colored pieced of construction paper.  Then they add more texture, using splattered paint.  Then, they use small pieces of cardboard, wood, and marker lids to add details like they eyes, buttons, mouth, and other details.

Magazine Bowls

IMG_2695I saw this done at a TAEA conference a few years back.  It is a great way to explore sculpture and recycled art.  As we begin we discuss artists Louise Nevelson and Mark Dion, as well as discussing possibilities for everyday items we use that aren’t easily recycled.  This is a great lesson for upper elementary, middle school, and high school.  For my 5th grade students I give them an inch-wide 14-16 inch long piece of poster board to uses as a folding strip.  With older students, I would recommend using a half-inch wide strip.  This helps them create uniform pieces to combine.  They begin by placing their folding strips lengthwise along the paper (landscape style).  I have the students folding, wrapping the paper around two times before the add a bead of glue.  Then they continue to repeat folding and adding a bead of glue until it is complete.  To build the base, students continue to create their folded strips and then when they have three or four of them, the begin creating the base of the bowl.  I have students create the base 10-20 strips thick in order to give the bowl a substantial base.  Then, the students continue the process, but instead of going directly around, they spiral the strips up to create the sides and edges of the bowl.  The resulting bowl is rather beautiful.  As an enrichment to the lesson, I have the advanced students create a color scheme for their bowl, or make the bowl transform into a vase.

Line Exploration Painting

Line Exploration PaintingThis project is a great way to introduce the element of art, line, to Kindergarten students.  Students use their kinesthetic intelligence to experience lines through movement – imitating the movement (or lack of movement) with the use of their arms.  Students compare and contrast a variety of relevant images of objects, buildings, and logos that illustrate different line expressions as well as works of art by artists such as Kandinsky and Miro.  Students develop their manipulative skills to draw curved, straight, wavy, and a multitude of other lines using oil pastels.  Then, with watercolor paints, students add color and fill in the spaces between the lines.  As an enrichment activity (especially for early finishers), students are encouraged to invent other lines and implement patterns on top of their dry painting using oil pastels.

Line Exploration Kinder
Line Exploration Rubric

Art: 117.2.b.1.B; 2.A-C; 3.A-C; 4.A-B