Sunday, February 13, 2011

(masterpieces) Paul Modigliani

I pull ideas for lessons from all aspects of my life. I draw on experiences growing up, books I've read, teachers I've observed, courses at university, and other art teachers with whom I interact (friends, coworkers, blogs, etc.). Often another person's project is just an inspiration point that jumps me to a completely different idea for a lesson. Other times, I adapt the lesson to fit into my scope and sequence and work for my international crowd. This lesson is one of the few I've done with very little tweaking. The weeks prior are spent studying proportions in the human figure and creating wire sculptures. To transition into this project, we observe accurate facial proportions on photos of various people.

          Where are the eyes?
          How long is the nose?
          Where are the ears?

Switching to the work of Amedeo Modigliani, I tell a brief background of his life. Having just studied proportions, they quickly point out the differences (placement of eyes, length of nose, length of neck, rounded shoulders, etc.). So was he a bad artist or did people look like that 100 years ago? We eventually decide that distortion (like we observed when our wire sculpture's arms got too long or head got too fat) can be intentional, not just a mistake. Following in Modigliani's steps, we create distorted self-portraits in oil pastels on black paper.

As a final exploration of distortion, we visit the Mac lab to play with preset distortions in Photobooth and use iWarp in Gimp to distort self-portrait photos (taken with the Mac's built-in camera).

(teacher's note) 5th grade spent the last few weeks working on proportions—creating sculptures and drawings with realistic sizes! After studying the correct facial proportions, they looked at the portraits of Amedeo Modigliani, an Italian artist. 5th grade used the same style to create their own Modigliani self-portraits. Be sure to notice the long necks, round shoulders, long noses, and eyes that are too high on the face! Paul entitled his project Paul Modigliani.

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