One of the first units I do every year with second grade is a drawing unit. My curriculum closely follows the NYC Visual Art Standards (The Blueprint for Teaching and Learning) and the 2nd Grade Performance Indicator for Drawing states that students should be able to create a drawing that demonstrates "experimentation with various drawing tools such as, oil pastels, pencils, colored pencils and crayons" and "use of varied lines and colors to convey expression". The suggested theme is a "family portrait with attention to physical features". This year I chose to have students create only one portrait (self) with the goal that they would learn to observe, in an in-depth way, the features in their own face and how to represent their observations through line, color and shape with drawing materials on paper. I know that at this age students are exploring the world around them and they love to tell stories based on these explorations and observations. For this reason, I chose to have students create narrative self-portraits, which required them to chose one story or fact about themselves that they wished to convey through their portrait.
I began the unit by giving students a chance to explore the material they would use for the portraits, which was oil pastel. By offering students the ability to have hands-on, exploration based experiences with the oil pastels, I knew they would then have a better understanding of how they might express themselves (and their story) through the material. Students learned they could color smoothly with the oil pastels, but could layer, smudge, mix and scratch the oil pastels as well. After this, I showed students several artists that have created narrative self-portraits (a great resource is the book, "Just Like Me: Stories and Self-Portraits by Fourteen Artists", edited by Harriet Rohmer, which not only has fabulous portraits by various artists, but it also has statements from the artists explaining their narrative portraits). Using a document camera, I took photos of the portraits and displayed them on my SMARTboard. Recently, I have been using the "Feldman's Method of Art Analysis" for looking at work with students and I adapt it based on the age/ability of each class (an overview can be found here: http://itismath.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/Feldmans-method.pdf). I asked students to describe what they saw, analyze based on the art elements (eg., colors, shapes, lines, etc.), interpret the art (i.e., what story/information is this artist telling us through their portrait? how do we know?) and then judge (i.e., what do you like about this drawing? if I could ask this artist a question about their art, I would ask...., etc.).
|Maya Christina Gonzalez|
Next, students brainstormed the story (or information about themselves) they wanted to share with others through their portrait (e.g., the time I got my white belt in Karate, my friend and I once went to the park together, I love to bake, etc.).
After this, students spent several weeks working from observation (using mirrors) to create their portraits with oil pastels. We observed and discussed our skin colors (e.g., light chocolate brown, tan, pinky peach, cinnamon, peanut butter, etc.) and how we might mix/layer/smudge together a variety of colors with oil pastels to create our own unique skin tone. Students also considered their background and how they could further portray their story/information in the background. Students finished their drawings by creating details and texture with ebony pencils and scratch (sgraffito) sticks.
At the end of the unit, students shared their portraits with classmates and reflected on their process by writing about what story/information they wanted to share via their portraits, lines and colors they used to convey this and how they used oil pastels in their drawing. I did this in order to reinforce learning for students, but also to help me assess students' understanding of their artistic process.
The finished portraits: