One of the most commonly asked questions during our time reading the book was "What does August look like?" Whilst we talked about his condition and the power of not having pictures in the book, the kids were still desperately interested in his appearance. It was at this point that I decided that perhaps we should create our own pictures of August to get their ideas out of their heads and onto paper. I decided straight up that realistic 'life drawings' really wouldn't work for this activity - even August says in the book that however awful you imagine his face to be, the reality is much worse. So I decided that the pictures needed to be stylised in some way - enter the Picasso style portrait!
These worked so well! I can't even begin to tell you how pleased I was with the finished products. The best thing about them was that every child could easily express their ideas without the constraints of it having to look too real. The finished portraits looked amazing up on the windows and got a lot of comments from other teachers and students around the school. As they were up on the windows, I also got my class to write some poetry to go on the back of the artworks so that they were double sided. We did some simple 'senses' poetry, from the point of view of August:
I am August PullmanTo make some of these great portraits with your class, you'll need:
I see ...
I hear ...
I taste ...
I smell ...
I feel ...
I am August Pullman
- A4 white paper
- Pencils and erasers
- Oil pastels
- Black markers
To begin, introduce your students to Picasso and his cubist style. There is some great kid friendly information about Pablo Picasso out there. Then show your students some examples of pictures done by other students. There are some great ones at Oil Pastel Picasso Faces and Watercolour/Wash Picasso Faces. Students could then have a play with Create your own 'Picasso head' to get the creative juices pumping!
With my class, I then demonstrated some of the techniques they might like to use on the board. For example, draw an oval for his head and then draw a 'nose line' - a line straight down the middle of the oval from top to bottom with an angle for the nose about 2/3 of the way down. This divides the face in half and students can then add an eye, ear, etc on each side of the line. I draw myself usually in these demonstrations (and make myself look totally crazy!) and the kids find this hilarious.
Once they have done their design in pencil, they then need to go over it in black marker. Finally, they color in every space in colored pastel. My rule is that they must leave no white space (apart from whites of the eyes!) on their page. I also suggest that they stick to one color per section, rather than trying to shade with pastels.
And the results are just fantastic!
Have you tried this activity with your class? Or something similar? I'd love to hear from you!