It's exciting as a parent to watch your child excel in a special talent... my youngest daughter (8 yrs old) recently spent time with me in my studio. While I was working on my own art project, she worked on her own. She drew out a self portrait (she was looking at a photo), and did so completely unassisted. I couldn't believe how well she did! She had the right proportions and everything.
When it came time to painting, I suggested some paint-mixing tips (i.e. skin colour - mix in a bit of blue with the red and yellow, into white.... for the hair - raw umber and yellow with some of the skin colour...). I was very proud of her results. :)
The question that prompted this self-portrait project for the Grade One Class was: "When I grow up, I want to be a ...":
A few weeks ago I joined the local grade one class again to do another art lesson. I began the art lesson by teaching them the basic colour wheel (introducing the primary and secondary colours). I then guided them into drawing themselves as though they were catching snowflakes on their tongue. The kids had fun using their own individual ideas as to how that looked:
It was fun finding the completed pictures out in the hallway a few weeks later, with poems that the kids had written about their artwork:
The last few lessons with Amy were spent working on this beautiful self-portrait. If you know Amy, you can easily see the resemblance. She has such a natural instinct for drawing accurate shapes, lines etc. I'm excited to see what she will create in the next year ahead.
A while ago, the Hiebert girls (Pat, Lauren, and Rachel) began painting their self-portrait. I had them use only black and white paint (water-based oil colour) for two reasons - for the lesson of seeing just in values, and also to reduce the colour-mixing time. Painting a self-portrait is a challenge enough without trying to mix proper colours. So, I thought this would be a good introduction to portraiture for them. We all learned a lot through this process.
Pat and Lauren finished off their paintings with a thin glaze of burnt sienna, and Rachel decided to leave her self-portrait unglazed. I'm excited about how well each painting turned out. I love seeing their own unique personality in each painting:
After a long summer break, Mackenzie (11 years old) started up lessons again yesterday. We have so much fun together, and I love her enthusiasm for life and her sense of humour.
I decided to try a couple alternative or unconventional drawing exercises with Mackenzie yesterday. I want to teach her to see. Or rather, to see more clearly. To see things in a new way. It's amazing how learning to see differently can affect the way someone draws, paints, or creates in other ways.
So, one of the exercises I had Mackenzie do was a Tactile Self-Portrait: She had to close her eyes and slowly feel her face, hair, shoulders etc. I asked her to draw what she felt.
The purpose of this exercise was for Mackenzie to 'think outside of the box' . To challenge her to 'see' in a different way. To translate what she felt with her fingers (tactile information) into visual lines.
I helped Mackenzie find the colours she wanted to use.
It's common to judge the value of art based on how well it represents something. This is an example of placing value in every line and colour - In this case, every line and colour change represents something to Mackenzie.
I always look forward to lessons with Megan. Besides being so sweet and sincere, Megan is serious about art. In an earlier blog I mentioned the black and white self-portraits that some of my students have been working on (using the "grisaille" method). Megan began her grisaille self-portrait painting back in winter sometime, and finished glazing the colour on it in the middle of the summer. It was a long process, and a challenge... for both of us! I have to admit (as I did to Megan) I was nervous about using her as my 'guinea pig' for this classical approach to portraiture.
However, it turned out beautifully:
This past summer I began art lessons with Zack - who is 12 years old. I immediately recognized the natural talent in him. He is very perceptive.
Within just a few lessons, Zack decided he wanted me to teach him how to draw faces - realistic faces. So, after some basic teaching on the face (proportions and so on), Zack worked on his first official self-portrait drawing. In just two lessons he created a beautiful drawing; I'm so proud of him!
I'm excited to see what else he will create in this next year.
Four of my art students have been working on black and white self-portraits - to be glazed with colour when completed. This is a method called "Grisaille". I wanted to experiment with glazing before they did... so I tried out a little painting. Here it is in black and white before I glazed it:
Once this painting was dry (I used titanium white mixed with raw umber and ivory black), I glazed it with variations of cadmium yellow and cadmium red, a bit of raw umber (mixing the paint with a painting medium), and scumbled in a bit of white over the highlighted areas.
I may glaze over even more colour yet. I am excited to experiment more with this method in the future! The benefit of painting with this method is that the correct value (light to dark) is established before the colour is added.
I live in Southern Ontario on a farm with my husband, Dennis, and our two daughters. Painting out of my studio on our farm allows me to stay close to my family and to be surrounded by the natural landscape that continues to influence my work.