SchoolArts Magazine

AUG-SEP 2010

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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Middle School Studio Lesson Kristine Templeton F or a long time I wanted to do a project dealing with caricatures, but as a middle-school teacher I hesitated. When we did self-portraits students were incredibly self-conscious. They fretted over their hair and faces, and even the most confident seemed to suffer major doubts; I did not think they would willingly play around with their image. I immediately dismissed partnerships because I did not want this to become a forum to poke fun at another student, or if partnered with one less adept at art, lead to hard feelings. The solution came one day when I decided to ask our staff to volunteer to have their caricatures done by my eighth-grade class. ff a tatures s ic ar C rendering, choosing people like Whoopi Goldberg, David Letterman, and Eleanor Roosevelt. We discussed line as an element of art, what a caricature is, and how to get a feel for their subject. Creating the Portraits Using the photos (printed in blackCall for Volunteers I sent an e-mail outlining my proposal and-white), students made preliminary sketches in their books, deciding and immediately had twenty-two volwhich features they might exaggerate unteers! Because I could not feasibly or emphasize. They each drew a grid schedule sittings to accommodate on the photo and one on a sheet of different schedules, we would work paper and began to transfer the image, from photos. I had more students than enlarging it at a volunteers, so I knew some staff The students involved were 1:2 ratio. When the members would motivated and completely realistic renderhave to be used on task during the process, ings were comtwice, but I liked and the staff enjoyed a good plete, I asked the opportunity laugh at their own expense. students to go for different back and look interpretations. again at their preliminary sketches, To prevent any students from being and then stylize their drawings. When tempted to "get back" at a teacher this step was completed, they used they might have a bad history with, permanent markers to go over the penphotos would be taken ahead of time cil lines, and were encouraged to vary and randomly passed out. the line weights. The final step was adding color, Inspired by al hirschfeld and this proved the most difficult for We started with a lesson on caricathem. I was bombarded with questions ture, and I made a PowerPoint presuch as, what color are their eyes? sentation showcasing the work of Their hair? What shade is their skin? Al Hirschfeld. I have long admired This led to interesting discussions on Hirschfeld's line work, and his amazobservation. ing ability to capture the essence of his subjects with minimal lines. exhibition and success Because many of Hirschfeld's subAfter almost three weeks of work, I jects were people my students would finally hung the portraits in a main not know, I juxtaposed images of the hallway after school. Our students real person alongside the Hirschfeld 36 August/September 2010 SchoolArts have a well-deserved reputation for producing amazing work, and there is frequent praise for the work displayed around the school, but this project seemed to transcend any other. Perhaps because the subjects were staff, or perhaps because this was a departure from other projects, there was a steady stream of people in that hall looking, commenting, and laughing. This project again proved the power of art to join together a very diverse group of people. The students involved were motivated and completely on task during the process, and the staff enjoyed a good laugh at their own expense. I want to acknowledge my colleagues for their enthusiasm and trust in me by volunteering, and to thank them for being such good sports. The only criticisms were from some staff who felt that one picture was far too pretty, and said, "That's not true caricature." Maybe not, but the teacher loved it! Kristine Templeton is an art teacher at New Brunswick Middle School in New Brunswick, New Jersey. ktemp@earthlink. net NatioNal StaNdard Students intentionally take advantage of the qualities and characteristics of art media, techniques, and processes to enhance communication of their experiences and ideas. Web liNk

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