Monday, November 21, 2011

JH Famous Portraits

Seems like I've got a lot to say about my JH students these days.  I'm not sure why, but perhaps it is because I feel like I'm finally getting into my groove with this age level.  Behavior-wise they are probably my more difficult group (they are just so squirrely), and project wise I think I've missed the mark several times with things that are too hard or too easy.
If my JH students have a buy-in with a project they work really hard and want to do well.  If they don't, it is a struggle with most of them. 
Because this is only my 2nd year teaching in this school, I am still building my program.  I am definitely making up for the lack of skills my students have due to the 5 art teachers in 5 years previous to me.  My mid-level students (5-12) seem to be lacking in the skills and confidence I'd hoped they would have, so we're working on it.  Sometimes we have to go back to the way basic, but that's ok.  Every year my plan is to do a portrait projects with as many grades as possible.  This year, I decided to take on famous portraits with my JH students to practice before we get into self-portraits.

I had each student choose any person they wanted as long as they were famous.  They were excited about this idea!  To make it even better we explored the grid technique for drawing these portraits.  For some of them, this was a new concept.  For some it helped, others not so much.  People are hard to draw!  And I find it difficult to teach as well.  I started by having them separately copy photos of eyes, noses, mouths that I found in magazines by focusing on shape and shading.  This broke it down and helped them to focus on one thing at a time.  I think this worked out ok, but by the time they got to these features on their portraits I think some of them completely forgot about these practices that we did.  In the end, the best way I could come up with was to show them how I do would do it, so I did chose a famous person too.  Perhaps there are some better ways to teach values/shading and portrait work.

 I believe after the hard work we did on this project, I may wait to do self-portraits until next semester.

I pulled out my fancy tips/tricks for this project: the grid, blending stumps, and kneaded cool! LOL!

I believe this is "Triple H" - perhaps a UFC fighter or something...this goes beyond me

Arnold Schwarzenegger - or as this student said "He looks more like Johnny Cash"

Avril Lavigne


Kasey Kane

Carrie Underwood

Selena Gomez
Now granted, I realize many of these famous people don't resemble or look close to the original photos we referenced.  Some of them are pretty close while others are very hard to tell.  However, they do look like people and that is a bonus!  And my students stuck to it, bought into it, and tried so hard!  I think they have something to be really proud of!


  1. The Selena Gomez portrait is spot-on.

    I've done the grid portraits several times over the years, plus other grid projects as well. A couple of hints:
    1) have the kids take a ball-point pen or extra-fine Sharpie and trace the contours on the photo (if you shoot photos of the kids you can make them black and white/high contrast/or line drawing). Anyhow, they can then use the contour line to copy via grid.
    2) Turn the pictures UPSIDE DOWN and number the squares - number the drawing paper the same, and have them work upside down copying the contour line. DO NOT LET THEM TURN THEM RIGHT SIDE UP until the line is done. This way they use right-brain skills and don't resort to those left brain "symbols" for noses, lips, etc. You'll be amazed. I do usually explain to the kids why they are doing this upside down (explain a little about right/left brain)/
    Hope this helps!

  2. Thank you for the tips! I will try those in the future. I know about doing drawings upside down with right brain/left brain, but that thought never occurred to me on this one.