Tag Archives: Self-Portrait

6th Grade Projects

6th Grade T-Shirts

For our first project we took a closer look at the screen-printing phenomenon that has been a key part in modern fashion.  We learned about the rise of the ‘T-shirt’, expressive lettering/typography, and evaluated what makes a “good” design and what makes a “bad” design.  Each student created a design that would be voted upon by the entire 6th grade as the main image of the t-shirt they would use for tournaments, field trips, and graduations this year.  Myself, and the 6th grade teachers narrowed it down to 6 choices for the front of the t-shirt, and below was the design that won the most votes as determined by the 6th grade.  There were some really great designs that had awesome t-shirt potential!  (We chose the back design from the student entries without any votes).

Our Learning Target:

I can create a “good” t-shirt design based on my understanding of the requirements, “expressive lettering”, and what makes a good design on a printed t-shirt.

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Joint Project: Fantasy Space Art and Artist Trading Cards (ATC’s)

These two projects were created simultaneously because the Fantasy Space Art required time-sensitive steps (drying time).  Both the construction of the Artist Trading Cards and Fantasy Space Art landscapes required each artist to build the image up in layers, and have the spatial understanding of which items would be in the foreground, the middle ground, and the background.  To see more information about the fantasy space art landscapes visit here.

Artist trading cards are unique pieces of artwork that are created and traded – just like baseball cards.  Within the creation process of their artist trading cards, I required that each student use Zentangle as one of their layers.  Zentangle is a doodling phenomenon that reminds me of doodles you may do during class or at a meeting – while you’re still listening of course!  There are tons of YouTube videos about how to Zentangle, a Zentangle blog, AND how-to drawing books.  These doodlings are very calming (hence the zen :)), and when layered with other materials, creates really cool pieces of artwork.

Our Learning Targets:

I can apply Zentangle techniques to create my artist trading cards.

I can demonstrate my understanding of layering and collage in my space art and artist trading cards.

(Our creation tables… :), some ATC’s and Fantasy Space Art)

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Joint Project: Flat Pack Toys and Cubed Self-Portraits

For our next artistic adventure we took a closer look at the human in three-dimensional form.  Our inspiration for this lesson was the artist, Marisol Escobar, whose wooden, geometrically formed human sculptures, were a unique invention to the art world – something that hadn’t really been seen before.  It was said that she could capture the essence of the person’s personality in the construction and creation of these three-dimensional portraits.  Emphasis throughout the project was comparing 2-D to 3-D, and how to problem solve to achieve a proportional cubed-self when working from the organic human form.

To prepare us for own construction of 3-D self-portraits we went through the process of creating a Flat Pack Toy.  The flat blueprint was filled in with colored pencil to resemble each 6th grade artist – a self-portrait – then cut, folded, and glued together to create this mini 3-D self-portrait.  Students then used these folded forms of themselves to assist them in the construction of their cubed selves.  We used model magic to create each cube.  I liked using the model magic, because once dry it can easily be decorated with regular or permanent markers and it’s light-weight – the only downfall is that it is more expensive than clay.  Each student used three cubes: one for the head, one for the torso, and one for the legs.  And as a special note, tacky glue works best for all aspects of assembling these cubed-selves!

This project used more days than initially planned, but the results are spectacular!  Some of the resemblances are truly uncanny!   I think having time-sensitive goals in the future for this project (and others) will help to keep our artistic and creative pursuits on schedule.  🙂

Our Learning Targets:

I can explain the difference between 2-D shapes and 3-D forms.

I can transform a 2-D drawing into a 3-D form using paper and Model Magic.

I understand that a self-portrait (2-D or 3-D) is a picture or sculpture of me.

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Face Jugs (Preview!)

We are beginning our clay project for 6th grade – African American Face Vessels!! These face jugs have been traced back to a specific county in South Carolina in the mid-1800’s.  Their purpose is explored in this video, but it is believed that slaves made these to continue and remember their African heritage, as they resemble African masks and statues. They may have served as grave markers, or good luck totems to keep bad luck away.

As in every clay lesson, we review the life of clay and its journey from the ground, to the kiln, to its function (as art, dishware, or otherwise).  This project really emphasizes attaching clay correctly using the score and slip method, scratching the surfaces to be attached (like Velcro) and then adding water (to serve as a glue).

To begin the base of the cup, each student created a pinch pot and flattened it out so it could begin to support the coils as they were attached, built-up, and smoothed.  Once the cup was tall enough, the facial features could be added – of course, using the score and slip method. I always remind my students when using clay to never have a project or piece be thinner than your pinky or thicker than your thumb – this prevents break and cracking, as well as trapping air and causing kiln accidents.

I’m excited to see how the rest of these turn out!! 🙂

Our Learning Targets:

I can use my time wisely to complete my face jug.

I can make a pinch pot and use coils to construct the cup.

I can use the score and slip method to attach clay pieces.

I understand the process of creating ceramics.

I understand these face vessels originated in the 1800’s and were made by African American slaves.

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4th Grade Projects

Lego Self-Portraits

What a fun way to start off the year!  A modern spin on a self-portrait.  Fourth grade were my guinea pigs on this lesson – I saw the idea on a blog (and can’t remember it now!).  Legos have always been a favorite toy ever since their inception in 1949 in Denmark.  Growing from basic colored bricks, there are now sets related to movies, cartoons, careers, cars, princesses, super heroes, architecture, etc., and entire amusement parks dedicated to these creative little bricks! Though we explored basics of creating realistic faces, the fun part was adapting these features to that of the Lego Mini Figure with its geometric body, and cartoon-like facial expressions.  I am very impressed and look forward to doing this in the future!

Our Learning Targets:

I can follow the step-by-step process of face-mapping to draw and accurate and proportional face.

I can draw my Lego self-portrait using the figure and steps I was shown, and make it resemble my hair, clothing, and facial expression.

I can draw a Lego figure that looks like me, and fill it in smoothly and carefully with colored pencil.

I can draw a neat background that fills the page and is related to my Lego-Me.

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Color Wheel Balloons

This project took a few more days than planned, but the results definitely speak to the student’s understanding of color theory and color mixing!  Understanding color theory, color terms, and knowing what colors make others, is not only essential in the world of art, but other walks of life as well.  Some great examples students came up with were those such as hair dressers, decorators, if you’re painting your house, if you’re painting a sports field, if you do fashion, if you’re designing logos, designing video games – and so many more – what can you come up with?!  Our emphasis was truly upon familiarizing ourselves with color vocabulary and working the with colors of the color wheel, including the primary, secondary, and intermediate colors.  Though it only covers the primary and secondary colors, one of my favorite videos to show (K-6) is this one by Ok Go, originally made for Sesame Street.   We also did this stick activity to identify colors as a whole group, then in partners.

For the project we were inspired by the penguin image below and the movie Up, about a  house being carried away buy a large bunch of balloons.  The kiddos were only given blue, red, and yellow, and were required to mix their own secondary and intermediate colors in the creation of their own balloon bunches. The bunches needed to contain seven balloons – 6 around 1 center balloon.  The six balloons need to be the primary and secondary colors in the correct order of the color wheel.  Where these balloons overlapped (like a Venn diagram), the appropriate intermediate color was painted.  These balloons then represented the 12-color color wheel painted in the correct order.  The center balloon could be an intermediate color of the student’s choice, and where that chosen intermediate color overlapped with the balloons surrounding it – the students mixed the result of those two colors as well.

They were given freedom as to which animal (real or imaginary) their balloons would be carrying away – I think they turned out GREAT!!

Our Learning Targets:

I can demonstrate my understanding of color mixing in class discussion, partner activities, and painting my balloons.

I can use the correct terms and vocabulary when talking about color.


(Our inspiration)

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Sticks for Color Activity mentioned above.

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Color identification partner practice and color mixing practice.

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Keith Haring Positive/Negative Moves!

Taking inspiration from our field trip to the Pappajohn Sculpture Park in downtown Des Moines, we decided to create people frozen in motion in the artistic style of Keith Haring.  After taking a closer look at some of Keith Haring’s images and his unique way of creating the cartoon figure of a human, we took turns posing and sketching only the outline of the person in action.

To make the actions and movements more realistic for our final image we incorporated the wooden mannequin – a drawing tool.  We go through a drawing process of a person with semi-complex details, to a simplified silhouette (outlined shadow or shape) of a person.  The mannequin helps artists to draw humans in an accurate and proportional way because the ‘joints’ can move in the way a human’s does.  To begin the drawing, it is easiest to draw each wooden piece as you see it in front of you, then once that is done, outline the basic shape to achieve the first outline shape, and then alter the outline to your preferences to achieve the final shape of the silhouetted person in motion.

Because some of Haring’s images are so simplified, using only two colors in some images, I thought this would be a great way to introduce the idea of positive and negative space.  We took a closer look at something that would be positive in an image (the first thing your eye sees, the main object), and the negative space of an image (the space around, behind, or between the main object), then explored positive and negative space with the Seeing Outside the Box cards, as well as the clever silhouette advertising of Apple products.

To refresh our memories about silhouettes and positive and negative space we studied more Seeing Outside the Box cards, and read the book Mother, Mother I Feel Sick… by Remy Charlip.

Our Learning Targets:

I can draw a human figure in the cartoon style of Keith Haring.

I can use the wooden drawing mannequin to draw the first stage of my person in motion.

I understand the difference between positive and negative shape and space.

Haring’s sculpture at the Pappajohn Sculpture Park, downtown Des Moines:


Here is a quick look at our process – final project pictures to come!


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3rd Grade Projects

Klimt Trees of Life

The 3rd grade students received SOOO many compliments when these were up in the hallway!  Their hard work was really evident in the carefully painted and drawn swirls reminiscent from the original Gustav Klimt Tree of Life.  We discussed the concept of the tree of life and how it is depicted in many different cultures.  We noted Klimt’s fondness of gold and intricate patterns and details, while making careful observations of the patterns and shapes seen in Klimt’s Tree of Life.

Our Learning Targets:

I can demonstrate my understanding of Gustav Klimt‘s painting style by producing my own version of the Tree of Life.

I can take my time to carefully paint the swirls of the tree, and demonstrate my understanding of Klimt’s style by creating symbols similar to his.

I can use pastels to add pattern and design to my tree inspired by Klimt’s symbols.

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Meet Me in the Middle Self-Portraits

This project was borrowed from my practicum teacher and her blog.  The kiddos are so proud of their results, and I am honestly blown away with their confidence and abilities to rise to this drawing challenge. Leonardo da Vinci, one of the most influential artists to develop and identify universal facial proportion (among his other extremely famous paintings and inventions), was our inspirational artist for this project.  We really took our time to practice and grow comfortable making portraits with correct proportions in order to make them look realistic.  We concentrated on specific features, perfecting them as much as we could before beginning our final portraits.  To help our shading practices we created a value scale to help us match the correct values for different parts of the face – what truly impressed me with these self-portraits was the amazing shading that really communicated the realism the THIRD GRADERS were aiming to portray.  These are amazing! Bravo!

Our Learning Targets:

I can follow the face-mapping process to create a realistic portrait.

I understand that realistic faces aren’t just one color, tint, or shade.



Warhol “POP” Cans

After closely observing the face to produce their amazing Meet Me in the Middle self-portraits, I felt it only natural to continue this great practice of observing and recording with an everyday object.  Andy Warhol is one of the most, if not the most famous, Pop Artist of all time.  Pop Art was really influential in the 1960’s, bringing the mundane, everyday item to the fine art world.  We got to know Andy Warhol and his series of Campbell’s Soup Cans to find inspiration in our own mini series of pop cans.  (Pop can and “Pop” Art is also a fun play on words :)).  One of the two drawn cans needed to be colored with the exact colors of the real pop can, while the second can could be colored however the student chose in order to simulate the bright colors often found in Pop Art. Here’s a link to this project on my old blog.

Our Learning Targets:

I can draw a pop can from observation.

I can create a realistic looking cylinder.

I understand the ideas, colors, and objects used in Pop Art.

I understand that Andy Warhol was a famous Pop Artist.

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2nd Grade Projects

Not A CD

This is my ‘Miss Eggers Signature Lesson’: I fell in love with it a year and a half ago when I saw a version of it on There’s a Dragon in the Art Room and have made it my own in order for it to be successful with my little artists!  I cannot emphasize enough the amazing CREATIVITY I see as a result of this lesson!  See my previous posts about this lesson to get all the details! 🙂

Our Learning Targets:

I can use my imagination and creativity to turn my CD into a NOT-A-CD.

I can fill my whole page with my neat, colorful drawing using oil pastels.

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Pattern and Texture Monsters

These two versions of our monsters were a joint exploration of the elements of line, pattern, and texture.  Our ultimate conclusion was that if we created lines in a pattern, we would create the illusion of texture for our two-dimensional (flat, drawn) monsters, and when lines were made into patterns in clay we created a texture we could actually feel.

To begin our exploration of texture with 3 of our 5 senses (not tasting or smelling :)), we IDENTIFIED and felt textures around the art room, like the bottom of our shoes, the chairs versus the tile versus the carpet, and then created texture rubbings using peeled crayons and paper to SEE the different textures that would result when placing paper over the object and pressing the crayon back and forth across the paper.

For our second exercise, we LISTENED to and then drew the detailed descriptions written in the story of the Island of Hullaballoo.  These descriptions included animals and landforms of different patterns, lines, and textures.  Each drawing has completely different results as the kiddos only have their hearing, memory, and imagination to create this fictional island.

Our next exercise was to reach into mystery bags to FEEL and identify the textures hidden inside.  (This was an old hidden gem I found while cleaning and organizing this summer!) The idea is that there are 8 to 9 different colors of bags, each colored bag contains a different swatch of texture, the kiddos pass it around, and then sketch the texture they feel.  After having done this exercise 3 to 4 times with different textures, we compare their drawings with photos provided in the game to see if their guesses and drawings were accurate.

We tried to make the clay monsters and the drawn monsters as similar as possible in order to see the transformation of texture from paper to clay.

Our Learning Targets:

I can feel and draw different kinds of textures.

I can draw different patterns and textures to create my monster.

I can use different materials, patterns, and textures to create my monster.

I can communicate texture through line, pattern, and clay techniques.


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Continuous Contour Line Self-Portraits

For the first part of our four part self-portrait series, we explored drawing using contour line.  These great videos introduced us to the challenges of drawing blind contour portraits (when you can’t look at your paper while you’re drawing) and continuous contour portraits (you must draw the entirety of a face without lifting your pencil).  The challenges resulted in some hilarious faces.  We were inspired by Pablo Picasso’s contour drawings, but in the future I would consider introducing Alexander Calder because of his amazing wire contour work.

Home challenge: explore blind and continuous contour drawing of your family member’s faces!!

Our Learning Target:

I can use contour drawing techniques to create a face.

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Thiebaud Tinted Ice Cream Cones

I LOVE Wayne Thiebaud, so when I saw this project displayed at a student art show in Davenport I knew I had to incorporate it into my color study of tints and shades curriculum.  Wayne Thiebaud (pronounced like Tim ‘Tebow’) is famous for making dessert art a part of mainstream, and well-recognized Pop Art.  He was influential within the Pop Art movement by challenging the idea of what fine art was, featuring every day objects (and food), reminding people of the fun and nostalgic memories they associate with having these special desserts.  His paintings have visible and thick brushstrokes reminiscent of actual frosting.  Needless to say, he’s a favorite with the elementary crowd!  Our vocabulary emphasis included some of the basics of color theory: primary colors, secondary colors, tints, and shades – quiz your kiddos about these!! 🙂

Don’t they look good enough to eat!

Our Learning Targets:

I can mix tints of a color.

I understand Wayne Thiebaud painted desserts during the era of Pop Art.

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(adding our sprinkles!)

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