Friday, February 6, 2015

drawing and dreaming with Horace and Melissa.

This week the 3rd graders continued their value unit. The goal of the project was for them to be able to make a character look 3d by using light and dark color values. Last week they used light and dark to create variety, so I wanted them to apply value to a drawing and make it more realistic.

The inspiration for the project comes from illustrations done by Melissa Sweet for the book A Splash of Red: the Life and Art of Horace Pippin. (the link for the book is a great resource for the classroom and has a video biography narrated by a child) 
I started the lesson by sharing a photo of Horace and talking about his life and all he overcame to become an artist. I then shared 2 illustrations by Melissa that are from the book. We looked at how she used a little bit of value contrast on Horace's skin and clothes in order to make him seem a little rounder and solid. I read the text to them and we then identified places, animals, and things that we saw in his thoughts above his head. I explained that they would be creating self-portraits- they would draw themselves and things that they enjoy.

 We followed the composition that Melissa did and I walked the kids through drawing their self-portraits. I had various hairstyle examples on the board, so they could have a better idea how to approach that aspect of the drawing. When they added color I emphasized pressing hard for their dark values and soft for their light values.

An hour isn't quite long enough for this lesson. I'll be bringing back classes for 15 minutes each next week, so that everyone can get finished. I wanted the focus to be on value, but the drawing portion of the lesson took a lot longer than I originally planned. That said, I love the individual takes on the self portraits- both physically and what they like to do:)

Always nice to see expressions like this on kids' faces when they get done:)


  1. I'm so excited to do these with my students - Have the book - love your lesson! thanks for sharing!

  2. Dear Mr. Masse's art students,

    Thank your sharing this project with me. I'm inspired by your work!
    It can take a lot of planning and thinking about content to do a self portrait, and there are a lot of ways to interpret a piece like this. I like your combination of words and the images you chose, and I especially like how you handled the values. Great rendering, great presentation.
    Look forward to seeing more of your work,
    Melissa Sweet

  3. These original works are terrific! Thanks so much for sharing how you set up the lesson and how the students responded with their truly exceptional self-portraits. This is exactly the kind of thing that Melissa and I had hoped Pippin's story would inspire. Congratulations to all of your young artists!!