Portrait practice

In anticipation of visiting the Long Beach Museum of Art’s current exhibit, “About Face”, we are working on our portrait drawing skills.
We started out with a blow up of a face from a magazine copied onto paper in black and white. We cut the image in half vertically and pasted the left side of the face to a sheet of large white drawing paper. The other half remained unglued and used as a reference.


We talked about the proportions of a face and how to divide the head into six equal squares, two by three.

The upper horizontal division is roughly at the ‘third eye’ level mid-forehead, the lower at the base of the nose. The eyes sit on the horizontal centre, the mouth on the centre of the lower third.

Then we had the students draw in the missing half of the face. Having half the face already on the page seemed to make them a bit more at ease and less fearful of putting pencil to paper. After getting in the basic features we encouraged them to add shading and to notice the light and dark contrasts in the photo. Drawing portraits has always been one of those things the kids find difficult to do and this approach seemed to work for them.




Next week we’ll do another portrait lesson- perhaps a self portrait on transparencies with marker so we can hang them in the windows and be seen from both inside and outside the classroom.
Still working out the details for a bus ride to the museum- cost is around $100 for public transportation(with one transfer) or $300 if we can get a school bus. Less than going to LA, which would be $600-$800. Admission is free to the museum since they are under 12. Free is good in this case. The show closes March 24 so we still have a few weeks. Testing season is rearing it’s ugly head and the teacher is under the gun to get the students prepared so it looks like we’ll have to wait until after the 8th of March to take our trip.
Testing = $$$
Art = ?????



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2 responses to “Portrait practice

  1. Deb

    This takes me back to my one college art class where I was the only economics major in a room full of art majors. The “split” drawing was such a great exercise. I’m looking forward to seeing the self-portraits on transparencies. What a great idea.

    I love this blog. While I don’t have a venue to teach art right now, in the past I volunteered in the fourth grade art class at my daughter’s school, and it was one of the highlights of my life. I think I learned more than the kids!

  2. So true Deb. This was the first time I had tried this exercise with the students and we’ll definitely repeat it next year if we’re invited back. I’m looking forward to trying the transparency idea- another one we’ve never done before. We have 2 weeks off so we’ll have to do it the last week in this month. In my mind’s eye I can already see them hanging in the window….

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