Warm/Cool Stained Glass Portraits in Elementary Art

“My dream is to be a shark expert.”
Some projects are solid, work every time, and are a major part of the cornerstone of what you do as an Art teacher. This project is like that for me. Every year I’ve taught elementary, I have taught this project. It encompasses several different techniques and objectives, students love it, and the results are beautiful. I was inspired to create the project after doing one too many cutesy warm/cool projects with my younger students.  I realized that my students were retaining the “cute” and not the content; this was my solution to that issue.
Here’s how we throw this down. I do this with 4th grade.
“My dream is to be a rocket engineer”
1.       We review primary and secondary colors. I review/introduce (depending on my audience) warm and cool colors.
2.       I conduct a guided drawing (our sloppy copy) to provide students with a framework bust portrait. We discuss how our portrait can look “weird” because we are going to do something “weirder” with it. This promotes success and confidence. We discuss how we see and draw hair as shapes instead of lots of little lines. I usually draw about 10-15 smiley faces and draw the generalized hairstyles present in the classroom. Be prepared to draw braids and cornrows; you will have them!
3.       Students re-draw their portrait in pencil on 11 inch x 18 inch white drawing paper.
4.       Students trace their portrait with black sharpie. You want something that will not bleed when you color later. If sharpies are out of the budget for your school black crayons and black colored pencils work great (and I’ve used them for this project in that manner!).
5.       I give students rulers. Students are told to make 5-6 horizontal lines evenly across their paper. We do not measure; we guesstimate. We use pencils.
6.       Each student is given a sticky note and asked to finish the sentence, “My dream is to be a. . .” We all share our answers with the class.
7.       I demonstrate how to write the sentence in “all caps” across the horizontal lines on our papers. I demonstrate this multiple times and hold up good student examples. This is a hard concept for some students to grasp. I tell them to be prepared to use erasers and that it is okay to make mistakes. Some students will have lots of extra room left over (depending on how short their sentence is) and I tell them to add “when I grow up” and/or their name.
8.       Students trace all of the pencil with sharpie

9.       Students erase all of the pencil lines. This will be necessary as most of their pieces will look a little messy at this point.
10.   We review warm/cool colors. Students are instructed to treat the black lines on their paper like the black lines of coloring books. The shapes that make up the face, body, and hair should be warm colors and the shapes that make up the eyes and the background should be cool colors. I used to let students pick whether they put warm colors in the foreground or background, but it got too confusing for everyone. So, this helps friends keeps friends on task. I remind students that they will probably make a mistake somewhere, and that this is okay. J

Some tips:
                -do not use brown or grey to color; it dilutes the final product
                -provide a visual reminder to students of what warm/cool colors are
                -remind students that blue is ALWAYS a cool color (even if it is light blue)
                -remind students that pink is a version of red and is therefore a warm color
                -encourage students to make piles of warm and cool colored markers for organization
                -this project took my classes 4 45 minute sessions

When finished, these make for show-stopper pieces that incorporate elements of Art and Literacy. 

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