Lesson 8 of 10
by Debi West
I love to save the best for last! This is another one of those awesome lessons that has every one of my art II students succeeding—and I believe that should be one of our ultimate goals. So this is the perfect final art II project.
This lesson is a culmination of the year’s curriculum and has my students reflecting on the works they have created, starting from their very first portrait study, back in August.
We discuss all they have learned throughout the year, specifically in terms of portraits and portraiture work.
We also discuss the importance of research and how vital it is for artists to research via books, Google images, search engines and Pinterest. The use of Pinterest is something that is mandatory in my art II course. All students are required to keep an “art” Pinterest board and Pin a minimum of 10 inspirational images a week. This gets them into the routine of looking for art that motivates and I often see how they use new techniques and ideas to inform their own works.
Students go through their Pins from the year and select four to five of their favorites in terms of composition, media, color, texture, themes, etc. In other words, they are selecting the images that gave them strong “aesthetic a-ha” moments. Once these have been selected, students print them out onto a color copy for reference as they begin to plan out their final portrait piece using parts of these selected Pins. I always remind my students that they’re not allowed to “copy” anyone’s art specifically, but rather, they are borrowing ideas and combining these techniques to create their own unique piece.
Students can select their own size, surface area and media, the only real objective is to draw or paint a portrait in their likeness and use the Pins for continued inspiration, in terms of both negative and positive space.
Students love the freedom of this lesson and the fact that they can use Pins they have been searching and collecting all year. And the results are always outstanding! You can actually see each student’s personality in the final works!
Last year, I had students keep “how to” journals that documented their thoughts during the planning stages—and beyond. These were then exhibited in an end-of-the-year exhibit, where they hung their other portraits and their final works. The exhibit really showed the community how much each artist had grown over the year. It was the perfect assessment tool. But, then again, art often is!
Up next … Bicycle Studies!
click here for resources related to this article
A&A Contributing Editor Debi West, Ed.S, NBCT, is Art Dept. Chair at North Gwinnett High School in Suwanee, Ga.