As volunteer Spectra Art Mom for my daughter’s Kindergarten classroom, I have to come up with art lessons every month or so. In the past, I’ve helped children work on art projects for a school auctions.
For the auction projects I’ve been able to work with a ratio of 1:1 or 1:3 …my cup of tea. However, this year has been a new kind of adventure. Usually I’m blessed with at least one parent volunteer, but we’ll just say that I have a whole new appreciation for how hard our teachers work. With 31 kids in one class, I can get…well… a bit overwhelmed. One site I find very helpful for art lesson ideas is the Deep Space Sparkle blog. This past fall I turned to her tutorial on doing Portraits with Kindergarteners.
Using a cardboard cut out, I traced egg shapes on each paper for the faces. Some children ended up with a pointed head and big chin because they worked with their papers upside down. If I did this again I would probably use a shape that is flattering turned either way, …perhaps use an arrow to show which way is up? Mixing the skin color was a bit challenging, especially when someone needed extra paint and we had to try and color match. We were slightly tempted to separate the children according to the color of their skin to make sharing paint easier, but this just felt wrong somehow.
We did however divide the kids by desired background color and shirt color.
Imagine 31 kindergarteners walking around with a wet portrait as they found the table with the next color of their choice.
We added white eyes, hair and background decorations before we ran out of time for the day. Sine the faces were still wet, waiting a couple days to add facial features was beneficial to the outcome.
Patty, from Sparkle Art has her kids outline their features with black paint. We considered this, as well as using a fine tipped Sharpie marker but decided they looked beautiful just as they were.
I love how the children’s personalities reflected in their self portraits.
I took photos of each kid holding their portrait for their school portfolio, like the one here of my daughter Zoeyanne and her beautiful (big chinned, pointy head/upside down) portrait.
I also took photos of each portrait by itself so I could photoshop them all together for a fun class poster. This poster is available for the parents to purchase (all proceeds to benefit the classroom).
As for the anxiety I feel when so many little paint filled hands reach in the air for help, it is also accompanied by so much love. I get waves and hugs in the hallways. ”Look! There’s my art teacher! I love her!” Last month a boy looked me in the eyes and said, very genuinely, “Thank you for being here today.” Last week a little boy gave me a big hug and said, “You’re the best art teacher ever!” So in the end it is totally worth it, sweaty palms and all.