The summer of 2012 kicked off my new class "Portrait-Self Portrait" at The Art Center Kids Program. I had such a terrific group of students. I was very fortunate to get kids who were very talented too. I took this existing class and remodeled it a bit. My primary focus was to instill in my students the importance of being able to measure and estimate distances and shapes. People who can draw really well have trained their eye to measure and calculate shapes by years of practice and by using some helpful tools. My objective was to make this as obvious to them as possible. I started by letting them do their first drawing without any instruction so I could see where they were at. Then I gave them a series of three projects based upon the square. I would use the square as a guide to help them measure and estimate distances. Below are the results.
I had my students sit across from each other. One side of the table drew the other, then they switched. I had to fill in as a model because we had an odd number of students. The great thing about doing this is that the kids got to see where they're at as well.
The second project I gave them was entitled "The Hollywood Movie Stars". I framed all of the images of the movie stars with squares and rectangles. I had them measure out the shapes off of their xeroxs and then they enlarged them on other pieces of drawing paper. I showed them how to grid the shapes and then instructed them on how to plot out points and estimate distances so they could render a more exact likeness.
It was extremely helpful to be able to show my students how to use the grid by giving them an in class demonstration. This enabled them to jump right in, sometimes words aren't enough. I always have to keep in mind that some students haven't used different mediums, like charcoal or pastels, so application is important too.
I presented this project the same way I did with "The Hollywood Movie Stars" except that I eliminated the grid lines. I only allowed the middle horizontal and vertical lines through their squares. My students would have less lines to work from which challenged them to estimate more on their own.
This last project I challenged my students with I took away the use of all interior lines and left them with the outer frame of the square as their only structural reference. The profile project showed the kids, that with a little "frame of reference," a noticeable jump can be seen from their very first life drawings in capturing a likeness. This can only happen when the necessary steps are taken to measure and estimate distances and shapes.
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