Last week the 2nd and 5th grade classes experimented with making tints of colors while creating portraits. Both grades used chalk pastels for these drawings, so the process was a lot of messy fun:)
The 2nds looked at the work of Argentinian painter Dan Casado for inspiration. We talked about how he exaggerates and changes the face parts, and that we can still recognize his people as people. We also noticed how he uses bold outlines to separate those face parts and other background elements.
We started by practicing a portrait on smaller paper and as we went along I modeled different ways they could approach the shapes. If they wanted to go at shapes differently, I encouraged them to try it out. We also added background elements that added to the personal quality of the drawings. For the final drawing, we drew them out on 12x14" brown paper, traced the lines with black crayon, and add chalk pastels to the paper.
When applying the pastels, we practiced not resting hands and arms on the paper to keep the paper (and ourselves) as clean as possible. Once we had most of the paper colored, I modeled adding white to certain areas to make lighter versions of those colors. I also then showed them how to smooth or blend certain areas with a finger (just one:)
I loved seeing the wide variety in face/background shapes, and color choices in these. Some kids were very delicate in their pastel handling, while others were much more aggressive and bold in approach.
The 5ths also looked at Dan's work for inspiration, but we also compared and contrasted his work with the work of San Diego based artist Gloria Muriel. She's one of my favorite artists working right now and I have been fortunate enough to see her at work while she was painting a mural in downtown San Diego. While Dan's forms are solid and blocky, Gloria's are much more elegant and flowing. Dan's portrait heads tend to take up the majority of the picture plane, while Gloria's more often are smaller in scale, allowing her to explore the rest of the space for hair, water, and other flowing natural elements. Despite all the differences, they both use bold dark lines throughout their compositions and both use tints of colors to great effect in their work.
After discussing the work of both artists, we set off to create a couple practice compositions inspired by their work. Kids could focus on the style of one or both artists. Furthermore, if someone went their own way with their portraits, that was okay, as long as they incorporated the required elements of bold lines and color tints. After sketching and sharing, we got to the large versions and like with the 2nds, I demonstrated chalk handling, creating tints, and blending colors.
I have been blown away by the diversity in portraits with this project. So many different compositions and takes on the portrait concept.