I have waited SOOOOO long to post this project! My fifth graders have worked SO hard and learned so much! I am pretty sure this is the most successful, difficult, and rewarding project I have ever taught!
First students brought baby pictures, or current photos and a photo or book of an animal that represented them in some way!
We looked at paintings by various artists and this video
students spent several weeks creating a composition with them and their animal in a surreal situation.
after the sketch was finished, students spent the next two classes outlining with extra fine tip sharpies and adding texture to their hair and the fur/feathers/scales of their animals
the next two classes were spent learning how to mix skin tones. We used the disposable cafeteria trays with brown, pink, yellow, and red with a reservoir of water to lighten the color. They used testing paper to test until they got it just right. They had to continue to refer to the image to see where to shade their faces
next we did eyes and lips. I gave a demonstration with each step first. They had to shade the pupil black but be very careful to leave a reflection of light in the eye. We call it the "tiny shiny" Everything in this painting had to have value. Nothing could be flat. Whenever they used any color I had to be able to see light and dark values of that color. For instance if the hair was brown I wanted to see at least 3-6 different shades and variations of brown.
remember the eyelids! When doing the lips, first paint with the skin tone and then add a tiny bit of red or pink to the color
The animals had to be painted with value according to the image. students learned to achieve lighter tones by adding water and blotting with tissue and darker tones by adding layers of color.
students had to choose a focal point. They could use neutral colors for their animal and their clothing and a very colorful background or colorful animal and clothes with very neutral background. That is why you see lots of black/brown/grey shirts or black/grey backgrounds
many students did a wet on wet technique for the background and incorporated any drips that happened along the way. I wanted them to work very loosely and not worry about messing up. Towards the end of the project I saw little artists emerging from their shells! They were trying new things, they were keeping their mistakes, and they were truly in love with their art! we dripped water just to see the spots it created, and and used straws to make drip explosions! They were lifting paint where they didn't want it, adding paint and taking giant leaps of courage jumping into their backgrounds with huge brushes and bright colors!!