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[teacherartexchange] Self-portraits of children playing musical instruments


Date: Fri Oct 14 2005 - 05:11:22 PDT

Hi all,

    I will be posting some new work in a few weeks. But I wanted to
tell you about it now as it's EXXXXXXXciting!

    Third grade self portraits playing musical instruments:
I showed them a PowerPoint of paintings by a variety of artists that
showed people playing musical instruments. I did a Google Image search
for Paintings of people playing musical instruments, and it turned up a
lot. I did not end up using paintings by artists I was familiar with
before, but their work fit the bill to enable us to have a discussion of
how those artists handled overlapping of hands over the instrument, body
behind it, arms leading to shoulders, how to draw someone seated,
dancing, swaying to their music as they played, etc., and we were able
to see in many cases the mood that the person was in as they played
their instruments. Many of the faces in these portraits showed the
person concentrating, or in a zoned out state as they played their
music. The kids really picked up on this. As so many of my students
play an instrument, it was exciting to see their observations and
interpretations of these paintings. There were also some wonderful
backgrounds that showed the mood of the music being played. I also did
an image search for pictures of musical instruments and printed them out
for them so that they would have packets of pianos from a variety of
angles, drums of all kinds, saxaphones, tubas, clarinets, flutes,
recorders, etc. to look at as they drew. The kids first did thumbnail
sketches on small rectangles that corresponded to the proportions of our
watercolor paper. Then they transferred their final idea to the
watercolor paper in light pencil and went over the pencil with thin
sharpie before watercoloring. I can't wait til you see how wonderfully
they turned out. Oh, I forgot to mention that I found some incredible
paintings by Japanese children showing them playing musical instruments
a while back. Those paintings led me to do this project, as they were
so inspirational. We discussed the work by those children, how the use
of pattern, texture, overlapping, and rich detail helped to make them so
delightful. The other thing we did was notice how in some cases the
hands were too big or small, the bodies were not perfectly proportioned,
etc., but it added to the charm. I asked them if the children who drew
for these paintings were more concerned with being perfect or getting
out their rich ideas and a story. They saw that they were indeed most
interested in drawing pictures that were not trite, but rich in detail,
that they took risks, and they were not obsessive about being perfect
with proportion, etc. They tried their hardest to add detail, pattern,
interesting poses, etc. and it the results were fantastic. We spent
some quality time talking about the fantastic things that children do
when they draw, and how so many adult artists try to emulate their
vision of the world and make their work look primitive or naive. We did
a detail hunt of those paintings by the Japanese children, naming a
gazillion things that they did to enrich their drawings. When they went
to work, they had their packets of instruments to help them draw pianos,
harps, etc., but the drawings really came from their imagination. One
girl finished painting hers the other day and I am as excited about the
richness of that piece as I have been about anything in a long time that
has been done in my room. I can't wait til you see them.

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