Sep 202014


This lesson was so successful the first time, that I decided to bring it back again this year as an introduction to drawing the human face. First students practiced and developed skills to identify and map out guidelines for correct facial proportions. Next they learned shading techniques to create values ranging from the darkest shadows to the brightest highlights. All of this was done with a regular #2 pencil!


Portraits were selected from magazines and cut so that students had to draw at least half of the face. The original picture was also limited to the torso or shoulders up (no full body images), and needed to fill the whole page. This allowed students to focus on drawing the face.


While many students searched through magazines to find an interesting or inspiring image, I provided photocopies of a few local Kauai surf heroes to choose from as well. Pictured above are Alana Blanchard and Leila Hurst, while the bottom images include Sebastian Zietz and Andy Irons. Other local surfing professionals included Dustin Barca, Bethany Hamilton, Malia Manuel and Evan Valiere.


Students really seemed to enjoy this lesson, and several students chose to draw more than one. I may bring this lesson back in the future with a different photo inspiration, like a “selfie”!


 Posted by at 12:27 pm
Aug 052013

Welcome to another fun year of Art! I’m already really enjoying my new bunch of middle school artists, along with a pretty large group of returning “Advanced” students too!

portrait of my teacher_1

The first warm-up activity was to draw a “Portrait of My Art Teacher.” Students began at the top of the page with my head, then folded the paper down, and passed it along. The next person continued drawing the torso without being able to see the first part of the drawing. Students continued to draw, fold, and pass the paper until the entire portrait was complete. The best part was at the end when they unfolded the paper to see the final (often funny) results!

portrait of my teacher_2

Seeing my students’ impression of me was great entertainment and a fun way to start off the class!

 Posted by at 12:42 pm
May 202013

01 half

This project was one of several end-of-year activities focused on drawing the human face and figure. When I surveyed students at the very beginning of the year, many of them expressed an interest in learning how to draw people. What started off as a quick introductory lesson resulted in some fantastic final drawings!

02 half

Requirements for the picture selection were fairly open as long as students chose a photograph of a person and cut it so that they were able to draw at least half of the face. Some students opted to print a picture from the Internet, while others hunted through my magazine collection for a good portrait.


I allowed students to choose whether they wanted to use colored pencils, or do a value study with regular graphite. In many cases students completed one of each! Dividing the photograph could be approached in a creative way as well, with zig-zag cuts, torn edges, and interesting angles.






 Posted by at 1:16 am
Apr 202013


For this assignment, students learned how to draw a portrait from a photograph using pencil-measuring techniques. Above left is my example, and the right image shows a student’s progress. While students worked on their drawings, I delivered presentations introducing them to interesting facts and important works for each artist.

Below: Pop artists Andy Warhol and Keith Haring.

Below: Surrealist artist Salvador Dali and photo-realistic portrait artist and photographer Chuck Close.

Below: American painter Georgia O’Keeffe and Mexican painter Frida Kahlo.

Below: Cubist painter Pablo Picasso and surrealist Salvador Dali.

 Posted by at 4:12 pm
Nov 042011

Kapaa Middle School Art students recently finished a two-part project featuring skeleton drawings that were cut out and mounted on a watercolor background. As an introduction, we studied the Hispanic holiday of Los Dias De Los Muertos and looked at skeleton artwork by the famous Jose Guatelupe Posada.

Students began with a small printed image of a skeleton and instructions to not only draw the image, but to enlarge it by 4 times! This was accomplished by measuring a grid that enabled them to draw the complex figure in small sections while maintaining the correct proportions.

While the process of measuring, drawing, shading and cutting of the bones was painstaking and meticulous, the background allowed students to be more expressive and free-form. Students were introduced to 6 different watercolor painting techniques which they practiced in their sketchbooks. The only requirement for the final background was to incorporate all 6 techniques.

“An artist will sooner and with more certainty, establish the character of skeletons, than the most learned anatomist, whose eye has not been accustomed to seize on every peculiarity.”
– Rembrandt Peale (American Artist & Naturalist)

 Posted by at 4:10 pm
May 102011

The final Art project of the year for Kapaa Middle School 7th and 8th graders was to complete a realistic self-portrait that also expressed the individual’s personality or character. Students analyzed self-portraits by Van Gogh and Frida Kahlo, while studying the technique and value scales of Chuck Close’s photorealistic large-scale portraits. The students were enthusiastic for the first step of the process, which involved taking turns posing and photographing digital portraits. Once 4″ X 6″ copies of the photographs were printed for each student, they measured and drew a 1″ grid with pencil on top. Next students were given their final 12″ X 18″ paper and enlarged the grid by 3 times. The actual drawing began with a precisely measured contour in order to establish correct proportions, and the final step was to shade with pencil.

“The advice I like to give young artists, or really anybody who’ll listen to me, is not to wait around for inspiration. Inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just show up and get to work. If you wait around for the clouds to part and a bolt of lightning to strike you in the brain, you are not going to make an awful lot of work. All the best ideas come out of the process; they come out of the work itself.” Chuck Close

 Posted by at 12:00 pm