Thursday, February 28, 2013

Pencil Portraits

Quite some time ago, students in Art One and Art Appreciation brought in an image of a person they love or admire.  I encouraged students to bring in an image of a family member because I knew it would keep them focused and dedicated to recreating the image.  Many students chose family members or friends,  others chose movie stars, politicians and inventors.   
Portrait by Maddeliene Z.

Portrait by Victoria D. of her grandfather.

 Although it is common for students to create gridded portraits as freshman, I wanted them to have the experience of trying to draw something realistically primarily from observation. 

To begin, I asked the students to stand over their large 18" by 24" paper and draw a large oval.  We discussed angles of the head and students made adjustments to their oval.  Next, I demonstrated drawing a different facial feature on each day, and students tackled them one by one through the amazing powers of observation and tenacity.

Portrait by Marissa V.  of her nephew.

Along the way, students practiced drawing facial features in their sketchbook, and used a variety of values to make them appear three-dimensional.

Next, we mapped out the proportions of the human face, and then they looked closely at their reference image, and slowly drew the eyes, nose and mouth.  Finally we added the ears and the shape of the hair. 

Students used tracing paper over their reference image to try and see the shapes of the facial features more clearly.  They also spent a lot of time measuring and comparing distances between features.
At last it was time to observe all of the value changes in the reference image, and add a sense of three-dimensionality to the face. 

Portrait by Oksana S.

Portrait by Ladijah H.
Portrait by Sophia E.
 Students closely observed their photograph throughout the process of drawing each feature, trying to capture a likeness to their reference photo.  I was so impressed by the persistence of my students and the caliber of the portraits.   Several students entered their portraits into the Scholastic Art Awards and won gold and silver keys as well as honorable mention.

Portrait by Myers of her grandfather