Tuesday, January 20, 2009

First Lessons on Painting a Self-Portrait

I found this amazing mirror last summer at a local thrift store. I think I paid $3.99 for it. It has been sitting on the top of my dresser for months now. I hemmed and hawed over whether to bring it to school or not as I was worried it may break and I would lose it. This morning I packed it in my bag and took it to work. The time had come to begin a series of lessons on self-portraiture.

I placed it on the top of the art shelf. Soon a student approached me and asked me what it was for. While I described self-portraiture to her, I watched as other children caught glimpses of themselves in the mirror.

I used several art cards to assist my description of a self-portrait. I especially liked the Van Gogh because this self-portrait captured him painting at his easel. I asked the student if she could see her face without a mirror. She quickly answered no. I showed her the mirror, pointing out the beautiful image on the back, and asked her to study herself in the mirror. It was a very slow paced, self-study. First she re-arranged some of her hair. She sat up straight and she adjusted her shirt.

I instructed her to use a pencil to make the initial sketch of her face. She did and she was very serious. She then used markers to finish her painting.

Soon another child was doing their self-portrait.

And another...

I think I will put color copies of these self-portraits into a book pairing paintings with photos of the students. One of the most popular works in the afternoon class was made from extra class pictures of the students and teachers. Cristina cut out individual pictures of students and teachers (two of each), glued them to construction paper and laminated them. This favorite pairing work is used by matching pictures. I have heard, "It's you Miss Dyer," blurted out excitedly by a child using the work many, many times.

The self portrait work allows the children the opportunity to boldly look at their face in the mirror - something they love doing.


Mary said...

hi! i love your site! i was wondering where you get your art cards?

Susan Y. Dyer said...

I have collected them for years. I wrote for an Art Magazine in London, England as an international art critic for eight years.

So...I have a lot of them. You can buy postcards of art at Barnes and Nobles, Borders, etc.

Susan Dyer
The Moveable Alphabet

jk said...

What a *great* idea! I'm going to have to try this with my two older kids...