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Arcimboldo Inspired Self-Portraits

Art 2 just wrapped up their colored pencil unit.  I have taught high school art for nine years now and I have done this same lesson with every group of Art 2 students that I have had!  It’s a great lesson to use for colored pencils.   We started with the obligatory prep work from my last blog entry (value scales, intensity scales, and shading forms).

Next, we do a bunch of brainstorming!  I like to make them brainstorm BEFORE they see any examples of what we will be making.  It keeps them honest and thinking of good ideas rather than thinking about items they THINK they can draw!  They can make these lists on any paper, but I have them included in my worksheet packet on Teachers pay Teachers.  They make lists of themes that represent themselves.  Then, they select one of their themes to elaborate on.   For example, if they chose “fishing” as one of their themes that represent them on the first list, then their next list they would need to come up with a list of as many things that relate to “fishing” as possible.  That list would include boats, fishing line, hook, bait, etc.  I make them do that for at least three themes from their original list.  Again, these are directions are all on my worksheet packet.

Then students watch the short video clip (approx. 15 minutes) from the National Gallery of Art about Giuseppe Arcimboldo titled, Nature and Fantasy.   I have students follow along and try to fill in the correct answers on a worksheet that is in my worksheet packet.

Next, we look at many student examples and we critique them as a class.  I show them what I’m looking for in their work.  For this assignment, I want burnished colored pencils.  I also need to see that they are attempting to make things look three-dimensional with the addition of highlights and shadows on forms. 

Then, they select their favorite theme and begin thinking about how to apply that to their faces! In my worksheet packet I have included some sketch pages so students can complete “thumbnail” sketches to plan the placement of objects into their faces.

Next, I set up the projector in my classroom to shine onto the white board.  Students pair up and sketch the outlines of their shadows onto white drawing paper.  If students struggle, I can assist with this part!

Finally, they can sketch the layout with light pencil and then add the colored pencil to create their finished works! Colored pencil can make the white edges of the paper messy and smudgy (especially when burnishing!) so, most times, students will cut out their profiles and glue them down to a new background.  Sometimes we play around with the color choice…and it’s crazy how much a different background color can change the whole look of the artwork!   They always amaze me with what they are able to accomplish!

Confession time:  I typically do not allow students to use copyrighted images in their artwork.  However, this is one assignment that I drop that rule.  Why?  Well, it’s a SELF portrait so I want them to make something that makes them happy!  Also, they will not be just copying an artwork, logo or a cartoon.  They still have to think creatively about how all these things go together to make their faces!  So, even though I’ve had many different Disney or Avengers or Video Games as themes, they always turn out very unique!  You can see for yourself in our examples below!

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Hi, I’m Erin!

I’ve been a high school art teacher at a rural school in WV for the past 14 years. I teach Art 1, AP Art + Design, Art 2 and 3. 
I’m a little obsessed with my sweet husband. Together we have FOUR kids and a rescue dog named Boomer! 
I love a bad pun and terrible dad jokes. I spend time looking at MBTI memes, cooking, listening to serial killer podcasts and Harry Potter audiobooks on repeat. I also teach yoga and indoor cycling. Click the button below to learn more about me. 

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