First through Third Grade Self Portraits

Sunshine Studios has been one big learning experience for me.

I have learned that I don’t necessarily know how to teach art.  Certain things, like holding a paint brush, choosing colors that look nice together, knowing how to mix colors, etc. come very naturally to me and I have mistakenly assumed my students would just naturally have these skills.

No.  They don’t.

I have found myself teaching how to hold scissors, how to appropriately use glue, and what you should and should not do with paint.

I have chosen projects that are way too hard and, alternatively, chosen projects that are way too easy and have been left with nothing to do and half the period to fill.

Sunshine Studios has been a learning experience… to say the least.

BUT, it has been a success.

We are wrapping up the first semester of classes, so I’ve been trying to do more exciting projects with a couple more steps to them.

I have done a number of self portraits with the little kids (first-third grade) and have had various success rates.  One of the big problems I have encountered, is that despite my handing out mirrors and us looking and the different shapes in our faces, the students want to draw themselves how they have learned to draw people, not as they actually see themselves.  As I am working with primarily Thai children, I end up with a slew of anime faces that hardly resemble their creator.

I also have a hard time getting these little ones to draw BIG and fill up their paper.

Wanting to address both of these issues and getting inspiration from this blog, I ventured into a two day (two week) project with my little ones.

The first week, we played “Miss Samara says” with a piece of watercolor paper and sharpies.  I would give instructions of what they should draw and they would follow them accordingly.  After about 10 minutes or so, I gave the students watercolors and instructions to fill the whole page with color.  “Miss Samara says there can be no white space.”

Those paintings turned out pretty neat.   Though the students all received the same instructions, each student ended up with a very unique abstract painting.

Despite the begging, I didn’t let the kiddies take the paintings home, as they were part one of our two part project.

While the students were painting their watercolors I took individual, close up portraits and then printed them out on 8×10 paper.

The next week, I gave each student the picture of themselves, a piece of transparency paper and a sharpie.  They placed the transparency over their pictures and I instructed them to trace every line on their face exactly as they see it.

This was actually a little more difficult than I thought it would be.  The students traced the general lines of their head, eyes, ears, nose and mouths, but weren’t paying attention to all the other, smaller and very important lines around these areas.

Students would typically tell me they were ‘finished’ about four times before I actually allowed them to be done–I would just keep pointing out more and more lines that they have left behind.

When I finally allowed the student to be ‘done’, we got their abstract from last week and then the students picked their favorite composition and attached the two projects.

The results were better than I could have even imaged.  I’m jealous of each and every one.

So here you are,

Sunshine Studios 1st-3rd Grade Self Portraits:

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This is Nina, she is in 3rd grade and has told me specifically that she wants to be an artist when she grows up.  She saves up snack money from her parents and pays for art class on her own and asks me every day at school if it’s art class day and has even tried to sneak into the older kids class.

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This is Titi.   He has constantly created some of my favorite pieces.  He, along with Nina, is in third grade and says that he wants to be an artist.  He has a very natural ability about him and is very naturally creative.  I couldn’t help laughing when he took his picture like this.  Oh.. and when this project was finished, he hung up his picture (the one he traced) on the mirror by the bathroom so that we see his face instead of our own.  He has the mark of a true artist.

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Pakboong, one of my favorite first graders.   Pakboong loves to draw and does a very good job.  I have found that Pakboong is a bit of a perfectionist.  She will only take her projects home if she loves them 100%, which means that Sunshine Studios has many of her discarded projects on the walls.  I really liked how her portrait turned out, it’s probably one of my favorites, though it’s hard to choose.  I really LOVE how she placed the portrait inside the shape in the center, making it look like it’s inside a mirror.  Her portrait also oddly resembles on of Frida’s famous portraits.  Way to go Pakboong.  (If only she let me keep this one…)

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Namoo.  Pakboong’s other half.  This kid lives inside of his imagination and what he creates is always interesting.  While I had some questions about whether or not he was really tracing what he was seeing, or just drawing what he wanted, the combination of his two projects looks like something I could see on display.

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This handsome boy, as most of you know, is Geshem.  My roommate and usually a co-collaborator on project ideas.  Geshem really loves to draw.  He draws from his imagination every night and his drawings are getting more and more detailed. He was at first, a student more prone to using his imagination while tracing the picture, but through Miss Samara’s repeated ‘you’re not finished yet’ answers, he was able to start seeing some of the natural lines in his first grade face!  He is also quite the lover of colors.  At one point in his growing up, he would say that his favorite color is the rainbow. This usually comes through in his color choices and in this instance, created, what I think, to be a brilliant piece.

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Finally, we have Hezikiah.  Hez really struggled the day that we were doing the abstract paintings.  He was tired and didn’t want to paint.  I wasn’t sure how his project was going turn out as a result.  The next week when we were tracing our faces, Hez was much more motivated and was one of the students that paid the most attention to detail.  I mean, check out how he handled his curly hair.  I was happily surprised when we put the two projects together, the result was actually quite nice, and like the rest of them, definitely wall worthy.

So there you have it!

First term of Sunshine Studios is almost complete and despite the hiccups and learning curve and lesson fails, I would say, we’re doing pretty well!

Lots of thank you’s to everyone who has made this possible!

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8 Comments

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8 responses to “First through Third Grade Self Portraits

  1. Wow! Those were all so unique and beautiful! Way to be patient and to inspire them to think outside and inside the box all at the same time. 😉

  2. mom

    I love how the back grounds that were drawn with directions are SO different. Everyone interperates what they hear a little different. These are great! I love them.

    • samara marie

      They really did turn out neat. I’m going to do the same project with the big kids this coming week because they were so awesome, but I think we will do it in one class (the class is longer) instead of two. love you

  3. Nina’s work is so expressive with all the action at the top over her forehead and eyes… like the imagination and creativity in that part of her are intrinsic to who she is… but then I actually gasped a small gasp at Pakboong’s painting; it is so remarkable. The framing and angle of her face and chest are so unique and arresting. What a phenomenal project. They are all really wonderful.

    • samara marie

      I agree–with both statements. When I was originally watching Nina do her painting, she was doing things so systematically and I was worried that her background wouldn’t be as interesting as everyone else’s, but… the result was so perfect. AND I had little to do with where the portrait laid on the painting, the kids chose their own composition. They just turned out so wonderful!

  4. gramma Sharon

    the beauty! wonderful! … the beauty of their faces over the amazing backgrounds … I love u and the doors u have opened in the children & in our eyes … to be able to see into their beautiful faces & I thank u for sharing how the Lord opens their hearts & talent while they live their lives for a time within your care

  5. What a cool way to get the students to see who they ARE! I might have to do this in the near future with my students.

  6. such a great project.
    love your and their creativity:)

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