Monday, February 15, 2016

In the Art Room: Super Hero Selfies

So I've been teaching for almost a million years and I'm not afraid to say that I don't love everything about teaching art. There are some things that got me all feelin' like this when I'm teaching...
 And got my students doing all this cuz they just...can't...
My two least fave thangie-muhgies are teaching figure drawing and perspective. In no particular order of distaste. I'm an equal opportunity dis-liker. 

So, what did I decide to do? Put both things together into one lesson. Because two negatives make a positive, right? Turns out they do in this case as the kids loved this Super Hero Selfie lesson!
This big fat hairy project involved color theory, wax resist, scratch-art paper making, perspective drawing, figure drawing and, finally, the creation of a super hero selfie. I decided to create a video for y'all to view on your own or share with your students. Because each phase of this project might take a class period, I broke this video up into bite sized pieces. So that you can easily find the individual lesson, I've added a header to the video. This way, if you are running a flipped classroom, you can simply have your students move on to the next clip!
 Just to break it down for you:

  • Day One: The students used 12" X 18" pieces of paper, oil pastels and either warm or cool watercolor paint. I like to use 80 lbs white paper.
  • Day Two: We made our scratch art paper! For this, I've found oil pastel works best. Also, when the students go to paint, use slightly diluted black tempera paint. I love Sax Versa Temp paint. We used 12" X 12" squares for this.
  • Day Three: Wooden skewers and templates were used. I had a variety of those shapes you saw in the video for the kids to trace. Many kids struggled with the idea of having the windows go back into space. So we watched a couple of videos and practiced on dry erase boards until we got it.
  • Day Four: We drew the kids in action in P.E.! Once we returned to the art room after about 10 minutes of gesture sketching, we used mannequins to create our own super hero pose. Lines were traced over with Sharpie.
  • Day Five: We started finishing our super heroes, adding color with colored pencil and creating our compositions. This entailed cutting out the buildings and arranging them in a pleasing way with our hero. Early finishers wrote stories about their heroes!

Now with our snow days, my jury duty and holidays, we've really been on the struggle bus to finish these. Mostly because the kids have really gotten into it! They keep getting more elaborate with their heroes, adding side kicks, villains and costumes. 
I love that each phase of this project introduced them to something new.
Here's a peek after the their day. Homemade scratch paper isn't perfect as it sometimes comes off in flakes. But having made it as a kid, I wanted my students to have the same experience. 
Gesture drawing the kids in P.E. was a big hit. It really loosened up the kids and helped them have more interesting poses for their super heroes.
The wooden mannequins were also helpful. You can see this student's original drawing in pencil under her Sharpie'd lines. I love the sidekick!
Check out that pose! I can't take credit, this student draws a lot and is very talented. Not to mention, a big Star Wars fan!
Once together, the kids wrote stories that had funny and elaborate names for their heroes. 


And for once, perspective and figure drawing had me and my students all...

 What are some of your fave perspective and figure drawing lessons? Do you have some tips and tricks? I'd love to hear about 'em as I'm always in need of some help...aren't we all?
Also! Many of you have asked about my videos: how I make them, what equipment I use, etc. I'll be sharing that in a blog post this week so stay tuned! 

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22 comments:

  1. Anonymous2/15/2016

    I love this project! What a fun way to tackle some challenging concepts! Thank you buckets! But would love to know....what grade did you do this project with?

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    1. Anonymous2/15/2016

      Never mind! Just watched the video and you said 4th! Thank you!!!

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    2. Sorry, I shoulda mentioned that!!

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  2. How Fun! Lots of creative Super Heroes!

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  3. I just happily stumbled upon your blog and...OMG!! You have made me SO excited to incorporate process art in the classroom! Thank you so much for making it look like something that someone like me (so not an artist) can do with my students!!

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    1. Yay!! Thank you for stopping by and letting me know :)

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  4. Love! Most excellent…thank you for sharing, Cassie. Borrowing bits of this idea for my 5th graders once school's back in session. ~ Dina Marie

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  5. Sara Danno2/16/2016

    I have a dumb question. How do you set up your camera to video tape your close up tutorials? I have a camera and a tripod and can't figure out the logistics of setting it up and positioning it so that it captures what I'm drawing without being at a funny angle or having my head in the way. Any suggestions?

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    1. Sara Danno2/16/2016

      Actually, I may have just figured something out. I think I'll film it upside down and then flip the video when I edit.

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    2. I have been trying to figure out a better way to film lessons as well, so definitely not a dumb question! I use my ipad, but it doesn't zoom while filming... Curious what technology other teachers use. Would a special stand help? And then how to edit afterward?!

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    3. Hi! I plan to share a video of me filming videos (ahem) on Sunday because I've had a lotta folks ask. I do use my tripod and camera...just angle the camera down to do the how-to shots. does that make sense? I promise I can explain it better...so stay tuned :)

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  6. Cathie Parramore2/18/2016

    These are great Cassie. Brilliant tips for creating perspective on buildings and I love the way you have combined several techniques. By the way, did you know that if you add a tiny amount of washing up liquid to the tempera it will create a smoother, non chip surface for scratching into?

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    1. Hi Cathie! I did not know that until I shared this post...and several folks have mentioned it!! Thank you! I will remember that awesome tip for the future :)

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  7. Love all your lessons! Where is your shirt from?? I need to get some art shirts :)

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  8. I just discovered wonderful you from your tweet of your superhero video! Great project--fun video! You've inspired me to let loose a bit more when teaching. Thank you!

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  9. Hi there! Fellow middle-Tennessean here! I'm doing this lesson with 2nd grade. Any perspective-building-drawing tips? Do you think the scratch art buildings are too difficult? Should I create tracers for the entire building? This project is for our art show/fundraiser, so I really want it to be great! Thanks! I love your lessons!!!

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  10. This is interesting... My little guy loves drawing, he's actually quite talented but the thing is, he doesn't find it as amusing, as let's say play papa's cooking games, this post gave me an idea, I'll have him draw characters from his favorite games. thanks for the inspiration.

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  11. Is your poem painted with regular watercolor or liquid? P.S. You have mad poem skillz! ;P

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  12. Anonymous5/16/2018

    Thank you so much for your brilliant work. I am not an art teacher, but I love helping my students illustrate their ideas about stories that we read or write. You truly have the gift of boosting students into the stars, so the superheroes metaphor is so apt for your work. Thank you again. Mary Pat Williams

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Thank you so much for your comments. I appreciate each and every one :)