Friday, November 11, 2016

In the Art Room: Sandra Silbertzweig Inspired Portraits by Third Grade

A couple of weeks ago, I shared with y'all a video I created for my third graders. The video (seen below) introduced my kids to the colorful work of Sandra Silbertzweig and allowed them to explore creating a colorful and abstract self portrait. This lesson is currently  one of my faves! Check out how stunning these beauties turned out. All of my students are currently creating a wide variety of self portraits for our Artome fundraiser...and I daresay, these just might be my faves. 
For this project, we used:

* 9" X 12" black or dark blue construction paper. I would have loved to make these bigger but that is the size of the Artome frames.

* Black glue or black puffy paint. There are a couple of ways to create black glue. My friend Ginger creates black glue with a mixture of Elmer's All Purpose glue and India Ink. I created mine with a one part mixture of paint to two parts glue. The key is to use Elmer's All Purpose, not the school grade stuff as it's runny. Also, I had some students use black puffy paint which worked great. Another alternative is to use glue on black paper as it dries clear and will leave behind a kind of transparent line that the dark paper can show through. 

* Chalk. I'm a big fan of Koss Brand chalk which can be found on Amazon. It's pricey but GREAT. 
 This project took us two plus art classes to complete. On the first day, we watched the video, learned about Sandra and did a little guided drawing. If you watch the video, you'll see I left the drawing portion open to many levels of drawing alternatives. Once the drawing was complete, the kids traced their lines in glue. From there, if time allowed, we watched a bit more of the video as a kind of sneak peak to the following week. 
The real fun came with the chalk. In the video, I really stress how to use the chalk properly...and we do a whole lot of chatting about analogous colors. I really felt like this lesson was a wonderful exploration of color theory. 
 Here is how each table of four children was set up: a laminated colorwheel that I found online and two bowls of chalk, one warm, the other cold. Students were to use the colorwheel as I did in the video. Many of them took the time to pair up and lay all of their chalk out on the wheel. This way, they could easily see what colors were available to use. I love that they were so into picking the correct colors for this project. 
After the second day, several kids were not finished. This was fine with me...I mean, look at those results! The following art class, as they wrapped up their drawing, we chatted about how their artwork was going to be hung like work in a museum. I had them get a notecard and create a label for their work. On their label, they were to write:

Artists Name
Process or Description

The information from this card will be used as both an assessment and also info for their Artome paperwork. 
 Once all pieces were complete, I blew off the excess dust and sprayed them liberally with Aqua Net. I did that three times to insure the chalk particles were attached. I'm hoping hey remain as vibrant and colorful when they are framed. 
Because of our small format, I decided to opt out of having the kids add designs to their work. I had a feeling it might have gotten a little muddy if we did. If the pieces had been of larger format, I think that would have worked well. 
I'm so looking forward to this winter art show. All of the kids have been creating beautiful works of art! I'll be sharing the work of my other grades soon. 
Until then, have a bright and colorful weekend!
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  1. Wow! These are gorgeous and your tutorial is incredible. We did a Sandra related project last year with the her fish picture as our inspiration. Can't wait to try this. THANK you so very much for taking the time to share your wisdom.

    ps - Do you sleep?

    1. I hope you do give it a go and let me know how it goes! And, yes, I do sleep...occasionally ;)

  2. So wonderfull self portraits!!! Compliments of your little artists : )

  3. These are SO beautiful! I can't believe how talented your students are! Congrats!

  4. Stephanie Pickron11/14/2016

    Can you tell me more about how the students chose which colors they put on their self portrait? These look amazing and I am currently making process visuals for my 4th graders!

    1. Sure! We talked about analogous colors. If you watch the video, I go over what analogous colors are in depth and how to use a colorwheel to find them. It was a wonderful way to get the kids to create color harmony in their work :)

  5. Cassie, you taught your students well, they are lucky to have you. What a fabulous job they did! Best, Sandra Silberzweig

  6. This is a gorgeous lesson! I am doing portraits with 5th, turtles with 4th, fish with 3rd and butterflies with second. The results are amazing. I was a little worried about the glue application but most seem to get it once I demo. The first day of chalk pastel was ho-hum, but then the second day they blew my mind. Incredible!
    As we used white glue to start, I have since mixed a batch of black glue (which I spilled everywhere by accident) and when the students are done with color they have the option to go back over the glue lines with black glue. They love the results and so do I. Thank you so much, Cassie, for this inspired lesson. You are the best, once again.


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