Monday, December 28, 2009

Painting - Colorful Characters

The children make fun self-portraits by adding alliterative adjectives to their names, such as Juvenile Jonathan. For ages 9 to 13. Plan 3 sessions.

  • Painting self-portraits
  • Using information to describe characters
  • Experience with layering paint
portrait, self-portrait, alliterative adjective, prop

  • Manila paper approximately 18 x 24 inches
  • Tempera paints
  • Brushes in a variety of sizes
  • Containers of water for rinsing brushes
  • Sponges for drying brushes
  • Small trays for mixing paint (Styrofoam trays from the grocery store work well)
  • Clear glass jars for mixing skin tones
  • Pencils
  • Scrap paper for sketching ideas
  • Dictionary for reference
First Session
  • Set out manila paper.
  • Set out pencils and scrap paper for sketching.
  • Have a dictionary available for reference. 
How to Begin
  • Explain to the children that when an artist makes a picture of a person, it is called a portrait. When the artist makes a picture of him or herself, it is called a self-portrait.
  • Tell the children that they will be painting self-portraits in a humorous way using alliterative adjectives. The first letter or sound of an alliterative adjective is the same as the word it describes, such as slimy snake or pickled pepper. Have the children work together to find alliterative adjectives for each others’ names, such as elegant Elizabeth or hungry Henry.
  • When planning the self-portraits, the emphasis should be on the alliterative adjectives, defining the characters through facial expressions, actions, clothing, and propsobjects that help to depict the characters. Encourage the children to keep the backgrounds simple and fill the papers with the figures and props.
  • Have the children plan their ideas on scrap paper. A dictionary is helpful when a child is having trouble with a visual interpretation of his or her word.
  • After deciding how to portray their characters, have the children sketch the figures and props on the manila paper. Warn them not to draw details at this time because, after they apply their first layer of paint, the pencil-drawn lines will disappear. 
Second Session
  • Set out glass jars for mixing skin colors.
  • Set out tempera paints, containers of water, brushes, sponges, and mixing trays.
  • Set out drawings from previous session. 
How to Begin
  • Explain to the children that two sessions will be used to complete their paintings. In this session, it is important that they cover their whole paper with a first layer of paint, including the background, skin, clothes, and props. Explain that this makes adding details to their paintings easier. For example, it is simpler to paint a sky blue and then dab on stars, than to paint stars and try to go around each one with blue paint. In the next session, when their paintings are dry, they can add their facial features, patterns on their clothes, or whatever details are needed.
  • It is helpful to mix skin colors together as a group. Using glass jars so everyone can see, start with white paint and gradually add small amounts of brown, or start with brown paint and gradually add small amounts of white. For warmer tones, add a dab of yellow. For darker tones, add a dab of blue. For reddish tones, add a dab of red.
  • Have the children apply the first layer of paint to the pictures.
  • Set the paintings aside to dry.
Third session
  • Set out tempera paints, containers of water, brushes, sponges, and mixing trays.
  • Set out dried paintings.
How to Begin
  • Explain to the children that they will be adding details to their paintings. Be sure the children understand that when painting on top of dried paint, it is important to dry the brush well after rinsing between colors. Too much water will wet the dried paint underneath, causing it to mix with the new color. To avoid scrubbing, which will also wet the dried paint underneath, the children should dip their brushes often into the paint.
  • Have the children complete their paintings with details that describe their alliterative characters. 
  • Have some alliterative adjectives ready to use as examples, such as Valuable Vincent, or Energetic Eric.
  • The alliterative adjectives should be silly and fun, avoiding any negative connotations, and descriptive enough to provide inspiration for a painting.
  • Plan enough time for the children to match adjectives with their names. This can take awhile, but everyone has fun working together.
  • Ask the children to identify the artists in the paintings.
  • Discuss the information used in the paintings to depict the alliterative adjectives.
What the children might say...
  • I like Valuable Vicki, but I don’t know how to draw valuable.
  • I’m going to be Dumb David and make myself walking upside down on the ceiling.
  • It’s hard to draw a person so big.
  • If I’m doing Tiny Tina, do I still have to make her big? I know! For Tiny Tina, I could make the furniture giant size!
  • I almost painted a smile on Serious Sara’s face. This project is silly. It makes me laugh.
What you might say...
  • Let’s look up “valuable” in the dictionary to see if we can get some ideas of ways to illustrate it.
  • Painting yourself upside down and walking on the ceiling sounds more clever to me than dumb.  Can you think of a word that means silly or acrobatic and starts with a “D”.
  • Drawing your portraits large enough to fill up your paper will add emphasis to your characters.
  • Using props is important to tell us about your character. Tiny Tina will certainly look tiny next to giant furniture.
  • The expression on your portrait's face is an important way to tell us a lot about your character.
Click to view this lesson in a printer-friendly format.