Wednesday, March 21, 2012

6th Grade Self-Portraits (Or "Bob Ross is a Genius")

Anyone else find themselves quoting Bob Ross in the classroom? He had a beautiful way of expressing the joys of art, and "happy accident" is probably my favorite Bob-ism. This current 6th grade self-portrait project has certainly yielded a number of very happy accidents. What began as a failed ink and oil pastel batik project turned into a large crop of fabulous sgraffito wonders! (See the original post here.) 

So after two classes (for some students) of scratching away at the india ink that just wouldn't wash, my 6th graders were actually thrilled with the results. I had to keep on them, though, because they just couldn't visualize the end. To them, it seemed that their brightly colored self-portraits were ruined. And then they saw the results, and wow, what great discussions came from problem-solving our way through our original "failed" technique.

Here are a few of the (much-needed) lessons my 6th grade young artists gained from this experience:
  1. Never give up. If something seems difficult, keep at it. You have the ability to complete anything you start.
  2. Don't judge your work until you reach the end. Art evolves through the process of creation.
  3. Keep an open mind. If you find your work moving in a direction that's not quite as you planned, just go with it. See where it takes you.
  4. Learn from your "mistakes." Mistakes are necessary in order to grow as an artist.
  5. Artists are problem-solvers. If something doesn't go as planned, explore other solutions. If you're still not satisfied, see lesson #3. (This is a lesson I voice in every class.)
And here are their results. (Some finished and some close to finished. A few students will go back in with white pastel to brighten their eyes in our next class.) I actually love this more than the original plan. Happy accident indeed! For students who were a bit behind, I gave them the option of applying a coat of black tempera paint and rinsing the drawings (which is what I was originally planning to do with the ink). Some chose to do that, and some chose to go ahead with the sgraffito technique. The tempera batik portraits are at the end. They turned out really well, too!

Sgraffito Self-Portraits (India ink over oil pastel)

This is a future self-portrait of sorts. This student
drew his dad. :)

This student was the first one to try to rinse away
the india ink. Her drawing tore a bit, so she's going
to add a bow or other hair adornment to cover
the hole. So smart!

Tempera Batik Self-Portraits (Tempera wash over oil pastel)

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