Grade 2 Sharpie & Watercolor Self-Portraits

Teaching Art

Let’s face it! Drawing faces is hard for artists of any age. Therefore when I teach Portraiture to Lower Primary students, I always show them different techniques, trips and tools to make the process easier. In this Portraiture Unit I shows Grade 2 students how to use a simple transfer technique to trace a photo of themselves to as a starting port fro their Watercolor Portrait.

After taking a photo of each student’s face and printing them, student began by tracing the major shapes and lines of their face. Practicing careful mark-making, fine motor control and patience, student moved on the the next step once their entire picture was outlined with black permanent marker.

Students then used a large soft graphite pencil to draw over their markers on the backside of the their picture. Note that students do not need to cover the entire back with pencil but rather just the marker lines as the pencil is needed to help transfer to their paper below for the next step.

Have students tape their picture to a piece of paper which will become their fine work. The paper should be heavy enough to handle watercolor paint so use something heavier than copier paper. Have students at this time write their name on the back as well. Then students will retrace their black markers lines on their face using a normal pencil. The pencil will push the graphite on the back of the picture creating a copy of their lines on the blank paper.

Remind students to check often that their pencil lines are transferring or that they can at least see the marks made to be able to trace over with marker. Once the entire picture is copied onto the paper below, students can remove their picture and begin going over their pencils line with permanent marker.

Students then will begin adding watercolour to their portrait. I had student begin with values and shadows in the face with one color. They could also practice first on their picture if they wanted. After they added color to face, they added color to their hair, eyebrows, eyes, lips and neck. Lastly they painted simple patterns in their clothing and background. Only a minimal amount of the white of the paper was left to ensure students have large areas of color to build pattern on top.

Once they were dry, students began building pattern on top of the watercolor using Posco paint markers. From outlining large shapes, to creating pattern within them, students demonstrated their ability to use LINE, SHAPE, COLOR & SHAPE to build patterns and make mindful choices about color.

Students reflected on their Self-Portrait by creating a poem. This also served as an assessment to one of the standards of the unit which was to have students show how they were connecting to their artwork.

The Watercolor Self-Portraits below are from one class. This can give you a good indication of how this unit is obtainable for all ability levels. Although there are obvious differences between fine motor control and application of Elements of Art and mediums used, this project is obtainable for all students and each and every student with the class felt that they were successful in creating a Self-Portrait.

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