Friday, January 8, 2016

Still Life Self Portraits With 7th Grade

Self portraits can be daunting, but students can express themselves without painting a traditional portrait. This project is based on one that the art teacher at Amherst Middle School, Rachel Rouillard, does with her 7th grade students. Students learn about self-portraits (traditional and non-traditional) and then bring in three objects from home to arrange into a composition and paint. Rachel has the students use acrylic and paint a mini composition (I think 4" square on canvas board, if I remember correctly). With the group of 7th graders I had at the time, I thought I'd try having them use ink, watercolor and colored pencil--I think that combination offers students more control and they can still explore value and color-mixing using paint.

These photos don't seem to do justice to these pieces.
They are really beautiful in person!

We spent a good amount of time sketching and working on composition for these pieces so that they were dynamic. I did not specify the size for the final pieces and there was a nice variety of little compositions and larger ones. The only trouble I ran into with this project was having the students bring in items from home--that just didn't work well for some. I'm not sure how I would work that in the future (perhaps give them the chance to bring objects in, but if they don't they use objects from the classroom?).

Anyway, I was SUPER-impressed by the work the students did. I think some of them were too! Once these were on display, they generated lots of discussion and comments from the middle school students and teachers in the hallway outside of class. ENJOY!

I like the inclusion of body spray in this one. ;-)

Some students preferred to focus on one object at a time.
I like how this student worked the background as well
adding color around each object and a shadow below.

This student also wanted to have the objects separate because he felt they were easier
to read with some space between them. He did a nice job with the details
and these objects have a great deal of personal significance to him.
And here are more of the students' work from the display...

And even more! Finished pieces were mounted onto mat board.
I feel this elevates the work from ho-hum to a finished piece worthy of display
(and preparing work for presentation is one of the National Core Art Standards).

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