Thursday, October 25, 2012

Painted Portraits Show Contrast and Value!

We worked from reproductions of portraits by master artists because the objective of this lesson was for students to carefully observe, locate and apply the many value changes in each image.  The original was  "Portrait of Dolly" by Kees van Dongen.  The student artist is Edeline from Period 1 and in this close-up we can clearly see the many brushstrokes of black, white and gray values she has applied.  Beautiful work!

The lesson began with students completing a painted value scale to show how black and white paint can be mixed in varying amounts to produce samples ranging from light to dark.  When the paint was dry, students cut their scale into one strip so they could use it as a "tool" to help identify specific values in the photocopy of their selected portrait from a master artist.

I had them tape the photocopy of the portrait onto one of the windows in the art room, and then tape a sheet of white drawing paper over it. They taped just the top so they could readily flip the paper up to look at the portrait and see if they were missing any details.  When viewing the portrait when tracing, it was important to trace the outside areas of the image ( the perimeter) as well as the inside shapes.  I asked the students to turn any areas where they saw a shadow or a visible brushstroke into a shape as they were tracing. Some of the students chose paintings that were loaded with these areas while other portraits had less "interior mapping" to trace.

This is what the portrait being traced in the photo above looked like after this stage.

The next several days were spent with each student using their value scale to identify specific areas on their photocopied portrait.  Slowly, they mixed and applied each value to their traced copy.  I reminded them that if they had a specific value on their brush they should apply it everywhere that they saw it at that time.  That way the entire painting progressed rather than just finishing one perfect area and then re-mixing the same values again later.  We found that this helped us to paint faster because there was less mixing to do!  The work pictured above shows a photocopy of a painting by Matisse and a value scale and portrait in progress by Emily in Period 5.

These friends from Period 5 are busy comparing their work to the masterworks.  You can see them mixing and applying a range of values to their portraits.  It looks like Janisse, (pictured in the front) has completed the portrait and now has the easier task of painting the background area.  Well done!

Let's look at some finished paintings!  This portrait is after one of Gauguin's images of Tahitian women. I put the whole 18 x 24 poster on the photocopier and then cropped out the parts of the image that we didn't need.  It was so important for the students to see the master images in grayscale;  but it was also fun for them to see the colored version of the images.  So I left the big posters out on a table and many students chose to take that image to their work area as another source of reference.  This portrait was painted by Janeliz in Period 1.  I think she did a lovely job!

It was fun to see how one student's version would differ from another student's rendition of the same portrait.  Here we can see  a tougher, gritty style done by Trejur in Period 4.  The use of dry brush technique creates a sense of danger in her character's personality and the overall mood of the image is darker than in Sara's version below.  Her painting has a gentler approach with well-groomed yet tousled hair and a kind expression on the face.  Both students did a wonderful job of placing the lights and darks in the correct places.  I realized that although we were copying from master works, each student could infuse the work with a sense of self identity.  As an art teacher, I found it fascinating to see the end results.
I have more work to share with you soon!  What did you think of this lesson?  We'd love to hear from you. Thanks!


Hope Hunter Knight said...

What a great lesson. That first example makes me want to get my brushes out right now!

Elizabeth - Dream Painters said...

Wow, what a wonderful lesson. Your students have done great work, very meticulous. Thank you so much for the comprehensive explanation of how you created this lesson - much appreciated! Elizabeth :)

one little deer said...

Thanks for your encouraging workds, ladies! This lesson was so valuable to the kids because they learned so much and got great results. I remember learning this skill as a freshman in college and they did this well as 8th graders! It goes withough saying that I believe in challenging my students; most of the time they'll rise to the occasion!