SchoolArts Magazine

January 2018

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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by the Nirvana song, "Smells Like Teen Spirit," I challenged students to capture the essence of being a teenager—however they each define that—through expression, gesture, and, in some cases, setting. Drawing Preparation In terms of preparation for realistic drawing, as artists, we know that there is really only one thing that students need to know: to draw what they see. But, as teachers, we also know that doesn't always quite do the trick. So, the mini- lessons that provided the necessary scaffolding for success included short YouTube tutorials, classroom practice, modeling, daily journal prompts focusing on portraits to sketch with related questions to discuss, and thumbnail sketches. Challenges Was I 100 percent successful in steer- ing students away from the pitfalls I h ad observed in too many teenage self-portraits? No. Admittedly, there were a few of my sixty-some stu - dents who proceeded without really k nowing what they wanted to con- T he motivation for the project Smells Like Teen Spirit was my desire to give my three classes of intermediate drawing and painting students a self-portrait drawing experience that would result in something more than a mere phys - ical likeness or contrived portrait. All of us have seen those shal- low, mid-toned, "frozen" graphite p ortraits—often shiny from blend- ing—that shout "high-school class a ssignment," and that was precisely what I wanted to avoid. Working with charcoal helped ensure that students were more likely to achieve deep, rich values. Although I allowed them to work from photographs, I insisted that they work from a two- thirds or three-quarter view to estab - lish a greater sense of depth. Working from Photos While I continue to be a proponent of working from observation, I am a fan of what artist David Kassan has to say about contemporary realism and the benefits of working both from life and from one's own photos: "My effort to constantly learn to document reality with a naturalistic, representational painting technique allows for pieces to be inherent contradictions; paintings that are both real and abstract." Inspiration In terms of content, I didn't want students making silly expressions or extreme faces, though I did want to combat the static, emotionless qual - ity of so many portraits. Inspired Smells Like Betsy DiJulio Inspired b the Nirvana song, "Smells Like Teen Spirit," I challenged students to capture the essence of being a teenager. TEEN Spirit CONTINUED ON PAGE 41. H I G H S C H O O L 36 JANUARY 2018 SchoolArts

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