What is a portrait? Traditionally speaking it would seem to be an image of a person drawn, painted or photographed. This was what my students thought when questioned. A more modern approach leads to inanimate objects that describe a persons characteristics. As a teacher this is a humbling thought. Standing at the front of the classroom and letting students know the next scheme of work is going to be portraiture is not always the nicest of feelings. As soon as the words leave my mouth I often see students starting to cringe, diving under desks or blurting out 'I can't draw'. Something about drawing the human form (face) tends to seem 'too dificult' to even attempt.
To try something a bit different
before telling students that they were going to be looking at portraiture I showed them an example of a final student piece from this project and asked them what they thought this project was about. It seemed to go over quite well as many students were very curious. They seemed to really like the idea of bringing something of themselves into the project. Since the project didn't really rely on their drawing abilities they all seemed up for it. In fact a few were asking for a camera straight away. Overall the students seemed intrigued and creative when allowed to explore art through photography. How the students created their silhouettes was to first photograph themselves in the pose they wanted and then print out the image, tape it to black sugar paper (construction paper) and carefully cut out the image of themselves thus creating an accurate silhouette. When the students didn't have to worry about the drawing aspect of what they wanted to do the creative element with in the students shot up. Students were asking if they could bring in props and work with others in order achieve their final pieces. It was quite something to witness as a teacher. Not to mention it made me feel good as students openly accepted (wanted) more responsibilities and were cooperative with each other to complete their pieces.
I have included some images of the students work below. If you are interested in the lesson plans and knowing more about this scheme of work click here http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Silhouette-Portraiture
Next time you teach portraiture have a think about how you might approach it. You can still get across the traditional basic skills but maybe in a more modern way. Who knows the students might surprise you with their outcomes.