SchoolArts Magazine

Summer 2019

SchoolArts is a national art education magazine committed to promoting excellence, advocacy, and professional support for educators in the visual arts since 1901.

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Claudia Zimmerman, grade five, uses a window to transfer her sketch to her final paper. E L E M E N T A R Y Scott Russel l Portraits in M icrography, or microcalligra- phy, is the practice of using diminutive letters to form representational, geometric, or abstract designs, usually in black and white. The text forms an image when viewed at a distance, creating an interplay between the text and image. I use this project as my culminat- ing lesson for my fifth-grade students and then hang the artworks during the last weeks of school for our promotion/ awards assembly. I have seen many par - ents pause for a photo of their child's last artwork as an elementary student. This is one they always take home. Considering Artist Self-Portraits Our discussion opens with a series of artists and their self-portraits. We talk about how and why artists create self-portraits, and what they tell us when we look at them. I use images of artists from different backgrounds: Albrecht Dürer, Leonardo da Vinci, Frida Kahlo, Kehinde Wiley, Faith Ringgold, Chuck Close, Vincent van Gogh, Andy Warhol, and Takashi Murakami. I share some background on all the artists and their work. We look at the images, considering which are the oldest, what informs our opin- ions, and what media is used. Moving to Students' Self-Portraits Students begin contour line sketches of their self-portraits. Because my students have done them many times by the fifth-grade, I don't do a step- by-step lesson, but provide reference sheets during the drawing stages. Stu- dents choose a facial view and create sketches of their faces using mirrors. I encourage them to draw large and provide a template for the head if they want one. I circulate around the room for individual help, which sets many students at ease. Once the sketch is completed, stu- dents take a thick permanent marker and outline the lines they want to keep. Next, using a light box, win- dow, or our lightly colored tabletops, students place the sketch behind a piece of white paper and trace the outline of their portrait in pencil. Moving to Micrography Next, I introduce the art and concept of micrography. You can find plenty of examples online. Since our school population is so diverse, I've had stu- dents able to read some of the Arabic and Islamic examples I find. We also discuss the way text is used in adver- tising and how text imagery is being used in technology. Students complete a brainstorming worksheet to help plan what words they want to use in their micrography self-portraits. Some begin writing on the portraits right away; others take more time to plan. Implied Lines Students write along their pencil lines. We talk about consistency of letter size and how it is important to create an implied line. This seems to be the most challenging part for stu - dents. Every line should have words along it, but it doesn't matter where they start. I am lenient about the eyes; 36 SUMMER 2019 SchoolArts

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