Project Length – 2 x approx 1 hour sessions
Ages – 5 – 11
In this project the children took their inspiration at the cubist portraits of Picasso. We began by looking at examples of his portraits and discussed their response to them. Did they like them? What is strange about them? Why would Picasso choose to paint like that? I gave them heavy black A4 paper and white chalk.
With a piece of paper positioned at the front of the group so that all children could see it, I led them through the first stages of the drawing. I find that this technique of ‘guided drawing’ is helpful to get them all going at the start of a project. It ensures that they all have the foundations for success and is particularly useful in making sure they scale of the drawing is appropriate (I often find that children tend to work very small). The children made a dot on the paper where they intended to start, thinking about leaving space for hair/hat at the top of the head. They looked at each other’s profiles and then drew in the profile of the face on the paper using the white chalk. I told them not to worry if they need to change something; they could just smudge it out with a finger and re-draw as it would all disappear underneath the oil pastel later. Once the profile was in place we drew one eye in profile on the left side and one eye straight-on on the right side. I explained that the lips are the part that ‘joins’ the two sides together so we draw a line through the middle of the mouth and then draw in the lips so that the profile side and the straight on side joined.
Once the features were all drawn in I stopped guiding them and left them to do their own thing. Firstly they drew in the shape of the face. We looked again at the Picasso pictures for some inspiration and they enjoyed creating some weird and wonderful face shapes. Then they got creative with the hair, hats, flowers etc. They added in necks and shoulders where they had space and thought about what clothes their person might be wearing.
I paused them at this stage and demonstrated how to use oil pastels as many hadn’t used them before. I told them I was looking to see them mixing and blending the colours to create interesting shades and patterns and showed them how to do this on my example. I divided my picture up into smaller sections and talked them through picking colours and adding details. They really enjoyed using the oil pastels on black paper and definitely rose to the challenge of covering up all of the paper and using a nice thick layer of pastel.
Once the face was coloured they thought about a background colour that would compliment it and the completed their pictures by defining the different areas with a black or dark coloured pastel. This brought the whole thing together and created that Picasso-look we were after.