Tag: drawing

Portrait Colored Pencil + The Memory Project

I have spent much of my life creating art. Growing up with an art teacher mom greatly widened my creative boundaries. She always had art supplies, new ideas, and fun projects for us to work on.

However, while my art making career does reach far back, for as long as I can remember I have also struggled with and have tried to avoid portraiture. In contrast, my art teacher mama spent much of her free time creating beautiful watercolor portraits, and even attempted to teach me her tricks a time or two, but the process never clicked for me.

My aversion to portraiture was tested in college, but for the most part I was able to skirt around assignments. However, my career choice of art education forced me to come face to face with my greatest art aversion, you guessed it, portraits.

I knew that in order to create a well rounded curriculum I would have to teach my students portraiture, and myself along with them. It took years of practice, learning new techniques, and teaching it to others for things to start to sink in. While it still doesn’t come naturally, it comes more easily, and I have added more and more portrait based assignments to my classes over the years.

One new addition last year was The Memory Project. We worked with The Memory Project organization to create portraits of children in areas of need. Once the portraits are completed we send the originals to the organization, who in turn sends them with representatives to hand deliver the works of art to the children portrayed.

Everything about this project touches me to the core. It incorporates my love for art, sharing that love with others, and it teaches students how they can use their talents for good. They have to take time to create a work of art that they will have to give away.

My students and I had such a good experience last year I decided to make it an annual project. Last year we focused on acrylic paintings, you can find the lesson plan for that here, but this year I opted to make myself even more uncomfortable by throwing in another material I don’t naturally get a long with, colored pencil.

THE SUPPLIES

  • 9″x12″ or smaller sheets of quality drawing paper
  • Memory portrait pictures (multiple copies, the same size as the paper)
  • Pencils
  • Colored pencils
  • Pencil sharpeners
  • Erasers

THE TECHNIQUE

My students start by selecting the child they are interested in recreating. I then make copies of their pictures for them to reference. Before jumping right in I have them create thumbnail sketches of different facial features and practice blending various colored pencils colors to get the right skin color. You can find a worksheet to help guide that process here.

After they have some practice under their belt, we get started on the base sketch. Because we are sending these portraits out to the children they portray, I allow my students to choose multiple options to get started. They can use the grid method to create an accurate base drawing, they can punch holes through the picture and make dots to follow on their paper, or they can free hand. You can learn more about these options in my Memory Project painting pack here.

Once they are confident in their drawing and have all the correct information, they get started with the layers. I tell them to start light and slowly build layers up. They block out shadows and mid-tones first, working towards the highlights. I recommend coloring in a circular motion to mimic the soft, even look of skin. They should aim to color along the contour, or outline, of their shapes to give it a three dimensional quality.

I recommend starting with the skin tone first before jumping into the hair because the hair overlaps the skin. I also think it’s important to work on every part equally, rather than 100% completing the lips before moving to the nose (for example). Instead, build your piece up as a whole.

After creating a base layer start adding darker and darker colors, build in the hair, clothing, and other details.

Consider what to do in the background. Did their subject note their favorite color? Is there an interesting background in the photograph they want to recreate? What would enhance, not distract from their portrait?

Similar to coloring in the subject, the layers should slowly be built up. If too much pigment is put down at one time the surface will become burnished and look shiny. It’s hard for more pigment to stick to this burnished surface and often layers need to be removed with an eraser in order to add more color.

While portraits still aren’t my favorite subject to create, I am glad I have developed the skill set and some confidence in introducing the concept to my students. It’s important to offer them a well rounded art education and portraits are a part of that!

Check out a time lapse video of my piece below!

Read about some of my other portrait projects here.

Check out portrait resources on my blog shop (grid lesson here) and my TPT (acrylic portrait project here, portrait with words here, charcoal self portraits here, altered self portraits here).

Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog and read about one of my recent projects! Share the post on your social media outlet of choice and help me spread the word about all things art making. Thanks for stopping by!

Visual Journal Page 41: Already on Edge

I was already on edge.

I had woken up early, showered, carefully selected my most professional outfit. I was driving on 285 en route to an interview.

It wasn’t just any interview. It was an interview at a well regarded private school that happened to be across the street from where my husband worked, we could carpool. I would have an actual budget to teach art. I would have small class sizes. I would work in a building dedicated to the fine arts. I could move on from my current job where I felt worn out, unappreciated, overworked, and like I was only a warm body available to proctor standardized test after standardized test.

A lot was weighing on this moment. I had to crush it. I couldn’t stay in my current job another year. Something needed to change.

All of these thoughts circled my head when suddenly taillights flashed ahead; the sound of crunching, and squealing tires followed. I glanced quickly to my right and miraculously in that split second the lane was open, I jumped over just in time. I had just missed being another car in a string of crushed metal.

A few seconds earlier or later and I could’ve been stuck on 285 while my interviewees awaited my arrival. I felt a wave of relief followed by the anxiety of almost being in an accident.

I was already on edge.

By the time I reached my interview my nerves had calmed, I had collected my thoughts, I was ready. I walked onto the school’s campus and was overwhelmed by how beautiful it was. I sat through five different interviews, and while intimidating, they were all so welcoming and nice. It felt like a place I could belong.

Seven years later that 285 corridor has become my commute. Hopefully I will continue to avoid accidents on my way to my beautiful campus and cushy private school job.

Supplies:

  • Visual journal,
  • Rubber cement or Mod Podge
  • Scissors
  • Watercolor
  • White paper
  • Book pages
  • Thin sharpie

How To:

To create this visual journal page I wanted to recreate the scene of the accident. As I drove past and glanced to my left I saw at least three cars had rear ended each other, but quite a few were stopped. I decided to stick with that number, after all odds are more pleasing in art.

I sketched out the crunched up cars on a separate sheet of paper and filled them in with watercolor. While the watercolor was still wet I blew it where the cars made contact to create a splatter effect. Once the first layer of watercolor dried, I add more detail and some shadows and highlights. I cut it out once it was dry.

Next, I cut out triangle shapes from two different colors of book pages. I wanted to create a graphic, loud symbol that would somewhat blend into the background. I glued the smaller triangles on top of the a larger triangles, then carefully placed them in the book. Once I was satisfied with their placement, emphasizing the cars hitting each other, I glued them down.

The watercolor cars were added next, then a few more book page triangles to the bottom. Last but not least I added the text using a thin sharpie.

Challenge:

Create a visual journal page about a stressful moment in your life. Incorporate cut up book pages somewhere in your image.

Check out more of my visual journal pages here. Interested in teaching visual journals? Check out my TPT lesson here.

Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog! Help me spread the word about visual journals with others. Thanks for stopping by.

Visual Journal Page 21: The Perfect Combination

I have said it many times, I have the sweet tooth of a 7 year old. My sugar palate never seemed to mature to the dark chocolates of my peers, I have always loved the 100% sugar, fruity varieties of candy that are marketed towards children. For many years, Skittles have been my reigning favorite, a fact that my hubby knows well.

Nick will periodically come home after a grocery trip with a share size Skittles bag. When we go see a movie, no questions asked, Skittles are the staple after popcorn. On road trips he will stop for gas, even if we don’t really need it, just to go get me a bag of Skittles.

Over the years, not only has Nick stored my favorite candy somewhere in his brain, he has also noted my favorite color combination: purple and red. I don’t know what it is about purple and red, it is the most perfect flavor combination out there. I don’t seek out purples or reds to eat individually, it is a combo deal, otherwise any color will do. I can’t even refer to them as their flavors, because a skittle flavor is unique to it’s color, and trust me, purple and red is it. As Nick and I snuggle up on the sofa to watch TV or sit in a movie theater, he will pass along Skittles to share. Without fail, if he ends up with a handful that has purples and reds, they come straight to me.

This is not something I ever made a point to tell him I needed. It was never a discussion, argument, or requirement. It was just something he noticed I liked and did for me unprompted. Moments like these define our marriage. It’s not the buying of houses or birthing of children, it’s the fact that I get every purple and red Skittle Nick comes across. The little things matter the most, because the little things add up to better days, weeks, months, years, and a continued growth together, not apart. The little things mean the other person is still paying attention, wants to know more, and do more to make you happy. Not because you are supposed to buy that house or procreate, they do things to make you happy just because they care enough to want to.

It’s scary how well you know me.

SUPPLIES:

  • Visual journal
  • Gesso
  • Paintbrush
  • Water
  • Pencil
  • Watercolor
  • Thin Sharpie
  • White colored pencil
  • Rubber cement

HOW TO

For this visual journal page, I decided to focus on the colors of the red and purple Skittles. I brainstormed different ways of including them, an avalanche of purples and reds, a Skittles package with nothing but purples and reds, but I ended up deciding that it isn’t the quantity that is important, it’s the combination of a single purple and a single red. Once I decided on just two skittles, I opted to draw hands cradling them, as if they were something delicate and special, not something I am about to chew up and digest.

To create the visual journal page, I started by ripping a page from my visual journal book. I did this because I wanted to make the arms and hands stand out against the page and decided to use watered down gesso to do that. Since gesso is liquidy, I didn’t want it to soak through the other pages of my book. I lightly sketched the outline of the arms and hands, then filled them in with gesso. Once dry, I added details and shading with a pencil. Gesso creates a nice, smooth surface to draw on top of.

After I finished my hands, on a separate sheet of paper I drew my skittles and filled them in with watercolor. I didn’t add much water to the pigment so I would end up with a nice, vibrant color. While waiting for the Skittles to dry, I moved onto my paint splatters. I added more water to the watercolor pigment, painted a thick line on a sheet of paper, and blew it at an angle to make the paint splatter. After the skittles and paint splatters dried, I cut them out.

I glued the skittles down first, then added a highlight and the “S” using a white colored pencil. Next, I alternated red and purple splatters around the hands, and glued them down with rubber cement. Last, I used an extra fine Sharpie to add the words on top of the paint splatters.

CHALLENGE

Dedicate a page to your favorite sweet.

 

Interested in teaching visual journals to your students? Check out my visual journal lesson plan here and bundle pack here.

Low-light

Every now and then it helps to have a topic to get you going on a page. I recommend making a list of things about you when you start your journal, and if you ever get stuck in a journal block you can reference the list to see if anything inspires you. Typically I will give out one or two journal assignments to my students over the course of a semester or year. One of my standard assignments is to create two pages, one should be a low-light of your week, the other should be a highlight.

This page is my low-light of the week. I have four sinks in my classroom, and I love my sinks. I really appreciate them because in the past we have had two art teachers at my school, and one always had to be in a room without a sink. If you know anything about teaching art you know that a sink is practically a requirement. So, I really do appreciate my sink… However in addition to my long job list as artist, teacher, maid, and counselor, I also have to add plumber. Some people don’t understand that you can’t shove every unused art material down the sink… You really need to throw excess in the trash (or even better save it for later or just don’t start with an excess) before you rinse off brushes, etc. Every now and then (and by every now and then I really mean at least once a week) one of my four sinks gets clogged, and fills with water, because people want to use the sink even though it obviously isn’t draining… and I whip out my plunger and get to it.

Even though unclogging my many sinks is a low-light in a way I can still look at it as a highlight because once all the nasty stuff is out of the way sometimes beautiful splashes of paint remain. I hate clogged sinks, but in a way it can turn into a work of art.

I used gesso to create a hazy base, then I drew the sink outline with pencil, and added value to create depth. I also used India Ink in the dark areas to emphasize the darker value. After I added all the shadows I went back with gesso to emphasize the highlights. To create the paint splatters I used bleeding tissue paper and blew it to create the splatter effect.