SchoolArts Magazine

AUG-SEP 2013

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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Asking Questions I created this list of questions that I ask myself when I tackle a portrait: • Whicheyelidismorecurved?The upper or lower? Which one is flatter? • Howcanyoutellwherethesideof the nose is? Is there a line? If not, what lets you know that it's there? • Whereisthewidestpartoftheface? • Ifyoudrewalinestraightupfrom the corners of the mouth, where would it hit? The inner corner of the eye? The pupil? The outer corner of the eye? • Whichlipisdarker?Theupperor lower lip? The Portrait: Version 2.0 To start my revamped portrait lesson, I had students draw a portrait the "old" way for comparison at the end of the lesson. Next, I gave each student a portrait mirror and a piece of paper and explained that I wanted them to draw their own face—not a generic face—and that I would talk them through it. I did NOT do a demonstration first, which contradicted everything I thought I knew about good teaching. I proceeded to ask them my list of questions, which took about thirty minutes. Observations The first thing I noticed was how quiet students were. They were fully engaged in capturing their observations on paper. Some students could be heard muttering comments such as, Alessio Deterli ne , grade ni ne. "That needs to be wider," or "Maybe that could be moved down a bit." No longer did I have students mindlessly applying a formula for the perfect face. two benefits of art that I often tout? Rethinking the Portrait Instead, they were capturing their I examined my own artistic process After researching the writing own unique features and celebrating when drawing portraits and found of Marvin Bartel and Duane their quirks. Sabiston, I began to I also noticed how open sturethink and restrucI gave myself permission to let students dents were about sharing their ture my portraiture make mistakes, and they surprised me work with each other. They unit. Why was I by revealing their artistic voices. weren't copying an example, teaching egghead so they were less concerned proportions when I about "getting it right." Comparing that I rarely rely on preconceived wanted students to capture their results to their original drawnotions of what the face should look the subtleties of different like. Instead, I ask myself questions as ing enabled every student, no matter faces? How was I encouraghis or her individual skill level, to see I look for landmarks on the face and ing problem-solving skills marked improvement. capture the shapes of the shadows. and personal expression, George Blackburn, grade nine. Continued on page 50. schoolartsonline.com 33

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