Middle School Studio Lesson
“Life is like riding a bicycle—in order to
keep your balance, you must keep moving.”
Iam always trying to come up with artwork that is unique to each stu- dent. I love to give mystudents an idea and watch them run with it.
The incredible results of one art assignment in particular amaze me every
time: the self-portrait bike collage.
Michelle L. McGinley
I go into detail by giving a few examples of what I mean by “anywhere,”
such as down the street to the park,
into the city, to the beach, to another
country, to the moon, or into their
favorite book, movie, or video game.
The Wind in My Hair
One of my favorite things to do is ride
my bike. I find bike riding to be a therapeutic outdoor adventure. One day I
was paging through
a bike catalog and
thought, “Wow, this
would make a really
cool art assignment!”
So, I made copies of
on colored paper;
these bikes would be the last part
added to a very exciting adventure.
There are a few things to clarify with
students before beginning. They
can cut, tear, fold, or hole-punch the
paper. I ask them to start with the
work their way to
objects, then details.
The bikes are to be
seen from the side
at eye-level to work
with the copies I
made. Students are
asked to place themselves on the bike.
Finally, students choose a bike that
is in proportion with the rest of their
One day I was paging
Removing the Training Wheels
through a bike catalog
and thought, “Wow, this
would make a really cool
I begin the lesson by asking the class
to share what they know about collage. Then, I show students the work
of different artists who incorporate
collage into their art. Next, I share my
love of biking and ask how many of
them like to ride their bikes.
Finally, I get to the good part. I tell
them that I am going to give them a
“bike” and they can take it anywhere!
Where to Go?
When students start working, there is
always a buzz about the class as they
discuss where they are going on their
bikes. It is good for students to confer
with their classmates to brainstorm
and work out their ideas. They start
with their background papers, and
during subsequent days, work with
larger objects in the foreground, and
eventually with the details.
The Bicycle Self-Portrait
Before students start on their bicycle
portraits, it is very important to demonstrate what a person on a bike looks
like from the side. On the board, I
demonstrate how to break down the
body into individual segments and
shapes. I emphasize including bent