At Cascade Canyon, the theme of the 2018-2019 school year was “iterations.” Mentor artist Tracy Eastman worked with 7th and 8th graders over the course of eight weeks through our Artists in Schools residency program to build on this theme with project-based work in self-portraiture. Tracy shares: “We discussed how the students are at an age where self-identity is often being formed, reflected upon, and sometimes questioned. This was the notion that lead to having the students create self-portraits for our culminating art project.”
The project began with an exploration of color theory and painting techniques in order to provide a strong platform for understanding the artistic process. Each student mixed and created their own palette using only the primary colors, plus brown and white. They each created color tiles by combining complimentary colors and documenting the iterations of hues that were achieved. The students kept the color tiles for personal reference to assist them when creating hues for their portraits. The process of the self-portrait paintings began with each student being assigned a school iPad, with which they took a series of self-portrait photos to choose from.
Tracy then guided students through the process of applying an electronic grid over their photos using their iPads, which were then replicated manually by drawing the grid directly onto their canvases. Using the grid as a guide for shapes and proportions, the students sketched their portraits from their photo references.
They then used their knowledge of color theory and painting techniques to create skin tones and other hues to complete their self-portraits. Tracy remarks, “Each layer of paint changed the appearance of the paintings, creating various iterations throughout the process. While many students tried to create paintings that looked much like their photos, there were also some who decided to improvise and re-imagine aspects of their paintings to make them more personal.”
The portraits were hung and displayed in the school’s community room for the culminating event, showing each student’s self reflection and self expression. Great job Cascade Canyon!