Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Self Portraits Inspired by Frida Kahlo

Our latest project to report on in Modern Art class was based on the work of Frida Kahlo.  Her work is intimately tied to her life story so it's worth doing a little homework on her before looking at her art.  Your interpretations will change dramatically with more information.  In class, we looked at these three works below.  I gave a brief biography of her life, including her health summary and marriage to Diego Rivera, and the rest of the time we spoke about the symbolism in the paintings.  That description might make it seem like I talk at the kids for hours but it's usually a 5 minute discussion where they do a lot of participating.

Self-Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird, image source:  Philadelphia Museum of Art

Roots, image source: Guardian 

The Wounded Deer, image source:  Wikipaintings

The assignment in class was self portraits.  I had brought the subject up in class several times in advance and did ask everyone to think about what aspects of themselves they'd like to present.  Even 5 year olds can get self conscious about painting themselves, so I didn't want to put anyone on the spot.

They were each given a double sided sharpie and a piece of watercolor paper.  The double sided sharpie was for drawing themselves.  Two sides can give variety to their line weights if they choose to use both sides.  They each had a mirror they could use as well.  Most of them looked in the mirror at first and then started drawing without looking in them again.  That's been my experience every time I do self portraits with this age group, but I still bring the mirrors in to introduce the idea for the future.

Once they had all their lines in, they got to add color with watercolor paint.  I set the project up as a self portrait of just their head with perhaps a border or other items in the background that were important to them (like Kahlo's work), or they could do an 'action' shot of themselves participating in their favorite activities.  One student chose to do themselves as a raccoon (with their own face) surfing.  I thought that was a much cheerier version of Kahlo's Deer.

Toad's version of the project, above, ended up interesting.  He was very self conscious of his work in class, the down side of your mom being the teacher probably.  He did a portrait of himself painting but chose very little color.  I thought that was great subject of course, but being the art teacher gave him the white space lecture.  We always struggle with time in class and he finished the project at home while I was out running an errand.  When I came back, I asked why he chose to cover everything with blue.   He explained, "It's me on a cold day so my skin has turned blue."  He had that look on his face so that's what I get for controlling his self expression!
This technique of sharpie then watercolor is so versatile I use it a lot.  It also is great for this age group as it explores two different skills - drawing and painting in one project.  You could apply this technique to many different artists to work up your own artist study.

For more information about Frida Kahlo:
Interactive at the San Fransisco museum of Modern Art
Museo Frida Kahlo (her house in Mexico city which is now a museum) video about Frida and Parents Guide

Great reads about Frida:

Materials used:

Watercolor Sets square set of 16 Watercolor Sets square set of 16
Prang semi-moist watercolor sets are ideal for the beginner and often suggested on school lists for students taking art classes. It is very easy to pull up color from the semi-moist pans and also easy to clean. The plastic case makes them easy to travel with and the lid folds out to be used as a mixing tray. Sets of 8 colors contain red, yellow, blue, orange, violet, green, brown, black with #7 brush. Sets of 16 colors contain red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet, brown, black, white, red violet, blue violet, turquoise blue, blue green, yellow green, yellow orange, red orange with a #9 brush. Set of 8 glitter colors contains red, orange red, yellow, green, dark blue, purple, light blue, gold with a #5 brush. Set of 8 metallic colors contains gold, light blue, pink, hot pink, orange, yellow, green, blue with a #5 brush.

Twin Tip Marker black Twin Tip Marker black
Get Dual degrees of precision from the Sharpie Twin Tip. One side has a 0.3 mm ultra fine point and the other has a fine bullet point. The ink marks permanently on most hard-to-mark surfaces. It?s also fade and water resistant, quick drying, non-toxic, and alcohol based. Also available in a set .

5 comments: said...

I never thought of the fact that even young children could be self conscious, that is great that you thought of that and addressed it before you even started. And I think this whole project is such a great idea. Thanks so much for sharing on We Made That!

Andrea @ No Doubt Learning said...

I love the idea of starting with a Sharpie and filling in with the watercolors!

Enchanted Homeschooling Mom said...

What a wonderful project that you have put together complete with all of the resources you suggest using along with this project. I have pinned this post so that I can come back after the holidays and put together a lesson for my kids. Thank you for linking up this week to my Enchanted Thursdays Blog Hop!

toady mama said...

Thanks ladies for your thoughtful comments!

Carrie said...

Another amazing project!! Thank you for sharing at Sharing Saturday!!

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