This was the final week in the art room for the 2nd grade so I wanted to choose a project that was both straight forward and fun. Self portraits can be quite daunting. But not when they’re done in the style of the Italian artist, Modigliani. I am not that familiar with his paintings. But after this week’s lesson, I have a feeling that the Shady Oak students and I will be revisiting his work frequently. His work is, “dominated by his sense of linear design…he used distortion as a way of highlighting characteristics of his subjects…he developed his own unique style experimenting with impressionism, surrealism and cubism. Many of his subject’s heads are elegantly bowed, with swan-like necks and sloping shoiulders. The effect is delicate and gentle …His faces are very distinctive with the long, thin noses, the empty almond-shaped eyes and the tiny pursed lips.
“ Once I had talked a little about Modigliani’s style and life and shown them a few examples of his paintings
(click on the following link to learn more about Modigliani) http://www.whoismodi.com/, it was time for the students
to begin their self portraits. They were provided with an elongated oval template in order to draw a head and were
then guided through the drawing of the facial features. As the nose, mouth and eyes are distorted, the students
did not obsess over drawing their features exactly. This often happens when children are asked to draw a self
portrait. I felt that Modigliani’s style gave them a great sense of freedom and confidence. They were then instructed
to add hair. (This was a good time to remind them that hair does not sit on top of the head, but flows on to the face
and behind the neck.) They then had to outline their pencil lines with a sharpie. The next step was to add paint.
Students did a great job matching up their skin, eye and hair color. The final stage was to add a monochromatic
background. I looooooooove these! Fabulous job 2nd grade. (Lesson plan courtesy of
But wait…there’s more. The students had finished their paintings in three lessons. So I thought it would be fun if
they created another Modigliani-like portrait. This time they could draw whatever character they chose. They used
colored pencils instead of paint.
What a wonderful year we’ve had. I have thoroughly enjoyed teaching art to your children and I hope have inspired
them to be bold, be creative and to continue having fun with paint, pencils, paper, glue etc.