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Portrait Power. Student examples of half face grid drawing graphite pencil activity.

Powerful Grid Drawing Portraits!

Let me be real vulnerable….  I have an Art 1 class this semester that has absolutely been my most difficult class in at least 10 years… and maybe ever.  This week we started drawing human faces and we began with my Grid Drawing Portrait worksheets.  

This class is my last class of the day (of course) and it’s been a HUGE struggle.   I usually enjoy having the students that other teachers might find to be a bit disruptive or squirrelly in their rooms.  Most of the time, I can sit down with them and have a few conversations, forming relationships and we end up enjoying one another eventually.  This method hasn’t worked at all with most of these kids.

I could make a loooong list of reasons this class is ROUGH. For example, one of them (I have my suspicion who!) has been making dog whistle sounds on their phone while I’m teaching in front of the class.  There are about 5 or 7 of them who just want to talk while I’m doing a lecture.   I have had to stop the lesson and just assign them a video to watch at home because I can’t get through the live demonstration.  It makes me sad because there are a bunch of really GREAT kids in there who don’t deserve to be punished.

On Friday, this class started a human facial proportions lesson.  I always begin by having them draw a human face without any guidance or teaching from me.   Then, I show them correct facial proportions on the white board and we discuss the problems they had with their first face drawing. Then, I pass out the Grid Drawing Portrait worksheets to each student.

In this terrible Art 1 class, I actually was able to get through the whole lecture on proportions.  Then, I was able to give instructions on the Grid Drawing Portrait Drawing worksheets without any problems.  I passed them out and then went to each table (I have 7 tables of 4 students each) and showed them how to use the grid and copy the values they see square by square. 

They need to focus on VALUE which creates form and not LINES which would make their work look like a cartoon.  I told them to turn the paper upside down and try to draw what they SAW and not what they “KNOW.”  I always tell them if they will just listen to me and trust me… they’ll be totally amazed at the faces they CAN draw.

They groaned and whined a little at first… but to my surprise….  as I walked around after the first individual table demos…  THEY WERE ALL ENGAGED.  Even this one kid who literally hasn’t lifted a pencil in MONTHS… He. Was. Working.  He actually asked me for help three times and he actually CORRECTED what I told him to correct!  I was flabbergasted!  

It made me wonder if I should have done this unit earlier in the semester???  Maybe next year I’ll try it sooner!

Do you have a difficult class this year?  Do you need a 2-3 day (I have 90 minute blocks) project that will keep them engaged?  Maybe my Grid Drawing Portrait Drawing bundle is just what you need?! 

Want to read more about this… and get a FREE one to try out? Click HERE!

Here is some of their work!  (FROM JUST 2 BLOCKS OF CLASSTIME!)

Grid Drawing Portrait Power Worksheet - Student Examples

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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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