Thursday, February 27, 2014

wavy faces

Last week the 5th graders looked a the work of California artist Erik Abel. I have used Erik's work to teach students about different elements in a few projects before. In this one, we used Erik's work as the focus for an exercise in color value and relief sculpture.

Erik's work is all about the water. We looked at numerous images from his website and looked at the wide variety of work he has done that ties into this theme. The image we focused on was called "Neptune's Crown of Coral". I pointed out that Erik and created variety in color by adding white or black to mainly one color.

The 5th graders have been working with tints and shades for a few lessons, but not with the limitation of using only one color to make a monochrome image, so I thought this would make for an interesting visual challenge for them.

Erik's painting is flat, but I thought it would be cool to add a relief element to the project, so after students drew out and colored their abstract portraits they cut them into several pieces and reassembled them on black paper. I showed them how they could have each section pop up once or twice, depending on how many places they added glue to. These pop outs tied in well with the water theme of the portraits too:)

We did draw out the basic shapes together- nose, eyes, mouth line, but I offered variations at each step. If students wanted to do something different at each point, they could go for it.


  1. Very cool! Love the 3D effect. Also like that your students made tints and shades with color sticks.

  2. These are awesome! I love how you broke the drawings up and turned them into relief sculptures, I feel that it adds a lot of personality to each portrait.

    1. thanks heather! cutting and popping parts out totally gives them more character.