Wednesday, November 3, 2010

6th Grade Self Portraits- Their Future's So Bright, They Gotta Wear Shades

 The idea for this project came, as you can tell from the title of the post, from the Timbuk 3 song "The Future's So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades."  I thought the students would like the twist of adding sunglasses since there are SO many different styles of sunglasses!  I don't think I will do this project with 6th grade again, it was not fun.  I talked to other art teachers who told me they don't even attempt realistic self portraits with 6th grade because they are getting to be so self conscious that their attitudes stink when you do a project like this.  I wish someone would have told me that ahead of time!  The project was supposed to take 3 class periods but I had to add a 4th because they were DRAGGING.  These pictures are not the truest representation since I pretty much only photographed artwork that I have permission to post on Artsonia.

During the first class period, I tried to show the students the music video for the song on YouTube.  For some reason, the sound on my new projector didn't want to cooperate that day so we only watched a few seconds of it.  If you want to watch the video, here's the link!  It's kinda fun.  After the projector failed me, we spent half the class going over facial proportions.  I always make the students measure with their hands on their own heads or they never believe that their eyes are in the middle of their heads, for example.  After the proportion discussion and my demonstration of drawing realistic facial features instead of symbols for them, the students started drawing with pencil.  In the next class, I demonstrated applying color.  I let the students choose colored pencils or oil pastels and they started after everything was laid out in graphite.  In the next class, I demonstrated adding shadows.  It ended up working really well to add shadows and the small details with colored pencil even if the students started with oil pastels. I always feel better to look at the artwork as a group after I've been frustrated with the project but I still don't plan on doing it again.  Just wanted to share the results!

 This student asked if he could do a TMNT mask instead of glasses and I thought it was a fun idea!

 This student decided to make his face green at first.  I have no idea why.

 I was really impressed with this portrait, the student achieved a good likeness.


  1. They did a good job! I was lamenting several posts back about my 6th-8th graders being super stubborn and unhappy with self portraits. Its frustrating but at least good to know it happens everywhere!

  2. I think even though you were frustrated with the results, they turned out well. I like this idea. I have a semi-abstracted self-portrait project I did with my 6th graders when I student taught. I plan to do it this year because I think it's fun. I'll have to send it to you!

    Amy :)

  3. I would love to see that! THESE portraits turned out good... I posted the ones that make me happy, not the ones that make me want to pull my hair out. You would not believe how many students were still not finished because they wasted time. :)

  4. kudos to you for only taking 4 sessions! a similar project took 7 (?) for my seventh graders. having them practice using the same portrait (Obama) made the process much easier than i anticipated. did you draw from mirrors? check out what they did!

  5. A lot of them didn't finish... But I only see them 9 times a semester. IF we don't miss their art day for snow, conferences, holidays, etc so we had to move on! We did use mirrors after I spent quite a while talking about facial proportions and making them feel on their own faces. Your students' self portraits look great!